The United States and Turkey are considering the possibility of imposing no-fly zones over Syria among a package of measures to help opposition forces in the deepening conflict with the Assad regime.
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was in Istanbul for talks with the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, on the 17-month uprising.
After their meeting Clinton said: “The United States continues to provide the opposition with communications equipment and other forms of non-lethal assistance and direct financial assistance.
“Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play. So we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that.”
Clinton also said support for Assad coming from beyond Syria’s borders was also being scrutinised.
“Yesterday in Washington,” she went on, “we announced sanctions designed to expose and disrupt the links between Iran, Hezbollah and Syria that prolong the life of the Assad regime.”
In Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad swore-in Syria’s new Prime Minister Wael al-Halki who was appointed after his predecessor defected to the opposition and fled the country earlier in the week.
Halki is a Sunni muslim from the southern city of Deraa where the uprising began against four decades of Assad family rule.
It came as Arab foreign ministers prepared to choose a replacement for Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League former envoy to Syria. Egyptian TV reported they were to meet in Jeddah this weekend.