(CBS News) The Obama administration said Tuesday it holds the Syrian government "responsible for the slaughter of innocent lives" in the there last week, and yet still opposes any military intervention, saying it would lead to greater chaos and carnage.
For now the President's strategy is to further isolate and pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad diplomatically, and Tuesday the U.S. expelled the top Syrian diplomat in Washington; 9 other countries followed suit, including Great Britain, France and Germany. But the question remains whether further isolation will actually stop the violence.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a press conference: "Obviously no single action like that diplomatic action stops the regime from its brutal behavior, but it is a cumulative effort."
The administration acknowledges that the plan put forth by Kofi Annan is failing, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey admitted Monday he is prepared with military options if necessary. In the meantime, the White House says it is helping to identify and unify the Syrian opposition forces before providing anything more than humanitarian assistance.
"The concern is that further militarization of the situation in Syria could lead to greater chaos," Carney said. "The nature and shape of and the membership of the opposition is still something that we and our partners are assessing, and that is another consideration that has to be acknowledged."
Top U.S. officials tell CBS News they still won't get involved militarily because Syria is a very complicated conflict. The opposition to President Assad is not unified and is dispersed throughout the country, and the U.S. is reluctant to spend hundreds of millions of dollars arming rebels it knows very little about.
Officials say this is going to be a very methodical, step-by-step diplomatic approach to tighten the noose around Assad and his allies in his government. The goal is to get Assad and his cronies to step down, but right now it's not working. It is unclear what is next.