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Report: Pentagon 'Beginning Review Of Syria Options'

As the U.S. continues to search for diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria, "the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command have begun a preliminary internal review of U.S. military capabilities," CNN is reporting.

The cable news network's Barbara Starr says that while "two senior administration officials who spoke about the review to CNN emphasized that U.S. policy for now remains the use of non-military options ... the military is beginning to look at what can be done."

"One of the senior U.S. officials called the effort a 'scoping exercise' to see what capabilities are available given other U.S. military commitments in the region," Starr also reports.

Since protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad began last spring, more than 5,000 Syrians have died — most at the hands of government forces — according to the U.N.

Meanwhile:

-- The Associated Press reports, "some leading voices in Washington" are suggesting that more forceful action will need to be taken to stop the regime of President Bashar Assad from killing more of Syria's people. "We should start considering ... arming the opposition. The bloodletting has got to stop," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said.

-- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Assad on Tuesday, said that "efforts to stop the violence should be accompanied by the beginning of dialogue among the political forces," according to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass. And he said he had "received confirmation of the readiness of the president of Syria for this work."

Over the weekend, Russia and China blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime and urged that he step aside.

-- "The Syrian city of Homs has come under renewed bombardment for the fifth day running — the heaviest so far, residents have told the BBC. Activists say more than 40 people have died as a result of the new shelling, but this is difficult to verify."

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