April 11, 2012
Tuesday night, April 10, after Damascus skipped the truce laid down in the UN-Arab envoy Kofi Annan’s plan and escalated its attacks on the Syrian population, a change of tone was detected in the Obama administration.
DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that, although President Barack Obama is still flat against broad US military intervention in Syria, administration circles feel America could no longer stay aloof from what is happening there. They are thinking in terms of limited military action to show Bashar Assad and the heads of his regime and army the first American red lines against his brutal crackdown. One plan under discussion is for a US air strike against an Assad regime and/or military target would be enough to dent morale in Damascus and demonstrate to his loyal troops and the Syrian opposition that the Syrian ruler is far from infallible.
This lesson might corner Assad into complying with Annan’s six-point peace plan, especially the ceasefire and withdrawal of armored troops from Syrian cities, which he ducked Tuesday.
The pretext Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem offered Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for missing the deadline, our Moscow sources report, was that when the soldiers are pulled out of the cities, rebel forces will move into the evacuated areas; the anti-Assad uprising would flare up again at full strength across Syria.
Moallem appealed to his host to persuade the Americans to continue to abstain from military action in Syria and defend the need for Syrian units to remain in the main cities, even against a complaint by Annan to the UN Security Council accusing Damascus of flouting an agreed plan.