Pentagon: We'll be ready if needed for Syria

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pentagon leaders say the U.S. military continues to plan further ways to try to halt the violence in Syria and will be ready if it's needed.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday in prepared comments to the House Armed Services Committee that right now diplomacy is the only clear path toward the ultimate goal of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad. But he says the military continues to plan other possible steps if President Barack Obama wants them.

Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey are updating the committee on security in Syria. Dempsey said in his prepared statement that so far the military's role has been in sharing information with regional partners. But Dempsey also says the military will be ready if other options are needed.