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Mon Feb 11, 2013, 10:02 AM

Gen. Dempsey: Plans to arm Syrian rebels 'conceptual'


Gen. Martin Dempsey said the recommendation stemmed from an exploration of ways to hasten an end to fighting before the Syria's institutions collapse.

Gen. Dempsey: Plans to arm Syrian rebels 'conceptual'
Jim Michaels
USA TODAY5:01p.m. EST February 10, 2013

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT The country's top military adviser said he viewed arming Syrian rebels as a potential option to hasten the end of the fighting and preserve the country's institutions, which are being ground down by civil war.

In his first public remarks since he acknowledged in congressional testimony that he and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had backed a proposal to arm the rebels, Gen. Martin Dempsey provided fresh details about his thinking.

But Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the conversations several months ago were "conceptual" and no specific plan was under consideration.

He said a "menu of options" were discussed in an effort to determine which ones "should we begin to flesh out."

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