US Secretary of State John Kerry says the White House is considering new options regarding the ongoing crisis in Syria.
"We are evaluating now, we’re taking a look at what steps, if any, diplomatic particularly, might be able to be taken in an effort to try to reduce that violence and deal with that situation," Kerry said in his first news conference as secretary of state on Friday.
The top US diplomat, however, refused to address a question about providing military assistance to the militants fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Kerry’s comments came after outgoing US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said he supports sending weapons to the militants in the Arab state.
Panetta voiced his support in a testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which centered on the attack on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi in September 2012.
The American official said he and the Pentagon backed the plan proposed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CIA Director David Petraeus to arm and train militants in Syria.
The plan, which was proposed by the two top US officials in the summer of 2012, called for dispatching weapons to militants in Syria with the help of some regional states.
Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have lost their lives in the violence.
The Syrian government has repeatedly criticized the US and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, for funding and arming anti-Damascus militants.
The US has already provided some USD 25 million to armed groups in Syria, calling it non-lethal aid to help them purchase communication devices.