During the final U.S. presidential debate, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama both pledged not to send war-weary American troops into the latest Middle East fray.
President Obama, on the heels of a foreign policy disaster in Libya
where the U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff were killed by heavily armed terrorists, seemed reluctant to help arm the anti-government “rebels” fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s superior forces
For his part, Romney suggested that only after aggressively vetting any recipients of weapons would he commit to arming anti-government sources and that he would not send U.S. troops to fight in Syria.
"By not arming the (rebel) Free Syrian Army with heavy weapons, he (Obama) is giving Assad the upper hand," said Muhieddine Lathkani, a member of the Syrian National Council, an umbrella of opposition groups, as quoted in the report
Relations between Syria and the U.S. went from bad to worse over the course of Mr. Obama’s administration, ultimately leading to calls for Syrian President Assad to step down. Instead, the internal conflict in Syria degenerated into a civil war that neither side is winning but has resulted in more than 30,000 dead.
U.S. forces have been engaged in two Middle East wars during the past 10 years and remains bogged down in Afghanistan despite plans to withdraw from the country by 2014.
Meanwhile in Syria
, cluster bombs that open in flight and release hundreds of mini-bombs are reportedly being used against rebels by government forces. Many Syrians are scrounging through war-ravished debris for metals and other materials they can sell and trade for food.
A plea by the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria for both sides to lay down their arms during Eid al-Adha, a four-day Muslim holiday that begins Friday, is being largely ignored.
Even if rebels fighting to topple Assad's regime agreed to a truce in the bloody civil war that has raged for 19 months it is not clear who would monitor the ceasefire since no country is willing to intervene and reporters are not allowed access in Syria.
, Turkey and Jordan are currently home hundreds of thousands of largely unwanted Syrian refuges as people pour across borders in search of relative safety.