Elisabeth Bumiller and Rick Gladstone
The Sydney Morning Herald
March 8, 2012

The Pentagon’s top two officials have revealed that President Barack Obama had asked for preliminary military options to respond to the Syria conflict but the administration still believed diplomatic and economic pressure was the best way to protect Syrians from the Assad government’s repression.

The statements by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in Senate testimony reflected increased concern about the year-old uprising in Syria, in which more than 7500 people have been killed, according to UN estimates.

Last night, Syrian deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameddin announced from Lebanon that he had resigned and was joining the revolt against the regime.

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