Gingrich suggests covert action in Syria

Newt Gingrich on CBS' "Face the Nation," Feb. 5. 2012.

The day after a government-directed assault allegedly left more than 200 people dead in Syria, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called for the U.S. to supply covert weapons and assistance there, as well as to put together a coalition to "get rid" of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In an interview with CBS' Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation," Gingrich said he thinks there's "a lot of things we could do covertly" in Syria, such as "supplying weapons... helping people in the region supply advisers.

"I think we should make clear to the world that Assad is going to go," Gingrich told Schieffer.

The former House Speaker said he didn't think it would be necessary to send in U.S. troops, but rather, "I think you can put together a coalition to get rid of him."

"I don't think you need to use American troops," Gingrich said. "But you do need to communicate that those who are opposed to Assad will get the kind of support they need in order to defeat him."

On Saturday, the Assad regime launched an assault on the city of Homs that activists say left more than 200 dead.

The same day, China and Russia blocked a U.N. action that would have backed an Arab League plan calling on Assad to step down.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday called the veto a "travesty," and urged "friends of democratic Syria" to unite against Assad's regime.

"What happened yesterday at the United Nations was a travesty," she said. "Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people's right to have a better future."

President Obama on Saturday assailed Assad's actions and reiterated his call for the Syrian president to step down.

"Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now," Mr. Obama said. "He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately."

Despite the U.N. veto, Clinton pledged to continue the combat the Assad regime.

"We will work to expose those who are still funding the regime and sending it weapons to be used against defenseless Syrians, including women and children," she said. "We will work with the friends of a democratic Syria around the world to support the opposition's peaceful political plans for change."