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June 18, 2013
"90% of the deaths that have taken place haven

From Dan De Luce, AFP:  President Barack Obama expressed skepticism that setting up a no-fly zone in Syria or other major US military action could save lives or tip the balance against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. . . .

Responding to calls to shut down Syria's combat aircraft with American air power, Obama said "the fact of the matter is for example, 90 percent of the deaths that have taken place haven't been because of air strikes by the Syrian air force."

"Syrian Air Force isn't particularly good. They can't aim very well," he said, adding that most of the action was taking place "on the ground."

On a possible "humanitarian corridor" to safeguard civilians in areas controlled by the opposition, Obama said such a step would require bombing raids that could carry unintended consequences, including triggering more civilian deaths.

"Or if you set up a humanitarian corridor, are you in fact committed not only to stopping aircraft from going that corridor, but also missiles?

"And if so, does that mean that you then have to take out the armaments in Damascus and are you prepared then to bomb Damascus? And what happens if there's civilian casualties?" he said in an interview recorded before he departed for a G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

In an unusual public comments by a president weighing military options, Obama said bombing also would carry the risk of inadvertently hitting a chemical weapons site, potentially unleashing lethal agents into the air.

"And have we mapped all of the chemical weapons facilities inside of Syria to make sure that we don't drop a bomb on a chemical weapons facility that ends up then dispersing chemical weapons and killing civilians, which is exactly what we're trying to prevent? . . ."

Obama implied he was wary of supplying more advanced weapons to the rebels and rejected arguments from some lawmakers and commentators that such a move would turn the tide of the war.

He said "any notion that somehow we're just a few, you know, anti-helicopter or tank weapons away from tipping in that direction I think is not being realistic analyzing the situation."  (photo: Alamy Live News)

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