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Best way for Obama to help Syria is with aid and diplomacy – not weapons

Giving military aid to Syria's rebels – however just their cause – will only prolong the civil war and increase the risk of sectarian conflagration in the region. A better way to help the Syrian people is to pursue diplomatic efforts to end the conflict and provide more humanitarian aid.

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People run for cover after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, June 10. Op-ed contributor David Cortright writes: 'Rather than pursuing uncertain and dangerous military solutions, the US should use its influence to continue to press for a diplomatic settlement.'

Nour Fourat/Reuters

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As onlookers gaze in horror at the civil war raging in Syria, many naturally feel a compulsion to do something to relieve the people’s suffering. Many have called for arming the Syrian rebels – a move President Obama is now reportedly considering as Bashar al-Assad’s forces are apparently poised to attack the key city of Homs. But such a step would worsen the devastation and might involve the United States in yet another Middle East war. A better way to help the Syrian people is to pursue diplomatic efforts to end the killing and provide greater support for humanitarian relief efforts.

Giving military aid to the rebels will only add fuel to the fire, prolonging the war, producing more death and destruction, and increasing the risk of sectarian conflagration in the region. The rebel cause is just – to overthrow the murderous Assad regime – but the hard reality is that after two years of fighting, insurgent forces have been unable to defeat government troops, and lately have lost ground militarily, most recently with the fall of the city of Qusayr in central Homs province. Mr. Assad’s Army remains strong, despite some defections, and has been bolstered by aid from Iran and Hezbollah and promised missile shipments from Russia.

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