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White House Backs Red Cross Call for Syrian Ceasefires

Demonstrators take part in a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad - carrying a sign that reads, 'Enemies of humanity your dark night will go and the new dawn of freedom will rise' - in Jerjenaz, near Idlib, February 17, 2012.

White House officials are supporting a call by the International Committee of the Red Cross for daily ceasefires in Syria to allow food and medical aid to reach victims of the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown.

Dozens of civilians were reported killed on Tuesday, when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces attacked cities and villages in the north of the country.

The Red Cross says families have been trapped for days without food, water or medical care, and it is calling for daily ceasefires by the government and rebel forces.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama’s administration backs the Red Cross in urging the ceasefires.

“The fact is, the reprehensible actions taken by the Assad regime - the brutal violence perpetrated by the Syrian leader against his own people - has led us to this situation where basic supplies, humanitarian supplies, are very scarce, and, therefore, action needs to be taken. So we would certainly support the calls for those kinds of ceasefires,” he said.

Carney said again that the United States is not planning to arm the Syrian rebels, but that the White House will consider all options.

“We still believe that a political solution is what is needed in Syria. We do not want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path,” said Carney.

The president’s spokesman said parts of Syria are not under Assad’s control, and the Obama administration often has called on the Syrian leader to step down.

Carney said U.S. officials have been meeting with international allies to discuss possible further steps to stop the killing in Syria.

“The international community needs to act in order to allow for the transition from Assad to a more democratic future for Syria to take place, before the situation becomes too chaotic,” he said.

Carney said the recent failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the Syrian government for its violent crackdown is partly responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Russia and China, both allies of the Assad government, vetoed the draft resolution.

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