Obama struggling to find winning formula in Syria

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 3:13 p.m. MST

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Carney answered questions including ones on Syria and North Korea.

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — With peace talks failing, Syria's government on the offensive and moderate rebels being pushed aside by al-Qaida-linked militants, the Obama administration is struggling for new ideas to halt a savage civil war.

The crisis has prompted officials to take another look at previously shelved ideas, including more robust assistance to Western-backed rebels, and newer, more far-reaching options, including drone strikes on rebel factions. But U.S. officials remain hampered by the same constraints that have stymied the American response throughout the three-year civil war.

Giving new impetus to the efforts are dire warnings from President Barack Obama's senior national security aides about extremist havens in Syria, and Americans and Westerners joining the fight and being radicalized.

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