The United States has kept the conflict in Syria at arm's length, but a State Department spokeswoman on Tuesday suggested the U.S. would consider getting involved beyond diplomacy if it couldn't persuade the government there to step down in the face of a popular uprising. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland's response to a question about U.S. involvement was vague, but she appeared to leave the door open to arming rebels there, Reuters reported. "We believe that a political solution to this is the best way to go," Nuland said. But she added, "if we can't get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures."
So far, the United States has refused to get involved in the Syrian crisis beyond calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and planning a meeting with allies of Syrian opposition to discuss options. On Monday, Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham said the United States should consider arming Syrian rebels, a suggestion Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey brushed off. But the situation in Syria continues to devolve into violence, with opposition activists reporting large, military-type assaults on civilians there Tuesday, and the Red Cross calling for a daily two-hour cease-fire there just so it could deliver aid and rescue the injured.