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SAN FRANCISCO Even amid mounting fears of a massacre in Syria's largest city, the United States must continue applying economic and diplomatic pressure before considering military intervention, America's highest-ranking military official said.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has no immediate plans for sending troops or aircraft to the Arab state embroiled in revolt. However, he said the possibility of military intervention could increase if there is strong international support, especially among Arab states.
"My job is to provide options, and I have been working on plans. None of them are at an executable level of detail at this point," Dempsey said in a news conference Friday after a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
Dempsey said circumstances in Syria are different than in Libya, where the U.S. bombing helped topple Moammar Gadhafi. Syria has more ethnic and tribal divisions and no United Nations mandate.
"All of the difficulties in the other Arab Spring moments are manifested and magnified in Syria. This is one where we need to continue to shape it diplomatically and economically before we would think about applying a military instrument of power," Dempsey said in his address Friday.
Dempsey told CNN on May 28 that military intervention in Syria should be considered. Since then, violence has escalated and spread to the capitol city of Damascus and the commercial hub of Aleppo, which has been bombarded by the Syrian military's artillery and aircraft.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates at least 145 civilians and rebels have been killed in Aleppo, the country's most populous city.