''The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.'' --Isaiah 17
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that following the UN security council's condemnation of the slaughter – in which more than 100 people were killed, many of them children – there needed to be increased diplomatic pressure on Damascus. But he added that the US would be prepared to act militarily if it was "asked to do so".
"There is always a military option," he told Fox News. "You'll always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force, because we're never entirely sure what comes out on the other side. But that said, it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities."
The warning comes as Barack Obama is under increasing pressure from his Republican opponent in November's presidential election, Mitt Romney, and members of Congress to take tougher action over Syria.
Romney accused Obama of weakness and disparaged his support for efforts by the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to revive a failing peace plan. He said Washington should instead arm opposition groups.
"After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for theUnited States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime. President Obama can no longer ignore calls from congressional leaders in both parties to take more assertive steps," he said.