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Defying White House, US diplomats call for intervention in Syria




Fighters from Syria's Manbij military council are seen on June 15, 2016 in a building on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Manbij, which is held by jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group, during an operation to try to retake the town.
Fighters from Syria's Manbij military council are seen on June 15, 2016 in a building on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Manbij, which is held by jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group, during an operation to try to retake the town.
DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

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(AP) Dozens of State Department employees have endorsed an internal document that advocates U.S. military action to pressure Syria's government into accepting a cease-fire and engaging in peace talks, officials said Thursday. The position is at odds with U.S. policy.

The "dissent channel cable" was signed by about 50 mostly mid-level department officials who deal with U.S. policy in Syria, according to officials who have seen the document. It expresses clear frustration with America's inability to halt a civil war that has killed perhaps a half-million people and contributed to a worldwide refugee crisis, and goes to the heart of President Barack Obama's reluctance to enter the fray.

While Washington has provided military assistance to some anti-Assad rebels, it has favored diplomacy over armed intervention as a means of ushering Syria's leader out of power. A series of partial cease-fires in recent months have only made the war slightly less deadly, and offered little hope of a peace settlement.

Guests:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, senior fellow for women and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations

Steven Simon, visiting fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College; he is also a former senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs on the White House’s National Security Council (2011-2012)