WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The United States can tip the military balance toward the Syrian opposition, but it has refused to do so mainly because the rebels may not back U.S. interests once they seize power, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey was quoted by local media on Wednesday.
In a letter sent Monday to representative Eliot Engel, top democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey said the U.S. military can change the balance of power in Syria by destroying the Syrian Air Force and negating government troops' ability to attack the rebels from the air, according to U.S. media reports.
But this "cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict," Dempsey wrote, adding that it is "not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides."
"It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and our when the balance shifts in their favor. Today they are not," the top U.S. officer said.
Dempsey said the best U.S. strategy moving forward is to " significantly increase our effort to develop a moderate opposition " while assisting in the humanitarian crisis "on a far more significant scale."
In response, Engel issued a statement saying that he remains " deeply unsatisfied" with the U.S. strategy in Syria.
"I reject the notion that our involvement in Syria would simply constitute 'choosing sides' between one armed group and another," he said, while urging the Obama administration to take actions to hasten the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule and stop the cycle of violence.
The lawmaker insisted that the United States should diminish al- Assad's ability to inflict harm upon Syrian citizens first, as a moderate opposition "stands little chance against the regime's scuds, tanks, and planes."
Last month, Dempsey proposed five options for military intervention in Syria, including launching limited air strikes, establishing a no-fly zone, training the opposition forces, creating buffer zones in Syria as safe havens for rebel fighters, and destroying or seizing Syria's chemical weapons.