WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said Sunday the United States could take covert action to help oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad without using US troops.
Gingrich, who is struggling to keep up with frontrunner Mitt Romney in the Republican race, told the CBS program "Face the Nation" that Washington should act to help remove the Syrian leader blamed for a deadly crackdown on opponents.
"I think there are a lot of things we could do covertly in terms of supplying weapons, supplying -- helping people in the region supply advisers," the former House speaker said.
"I think we should make clear to the world that Assad is going to go. And I think you can put together a coalition to get rid of him. I don't think you need to use American troops, but you do need to communicate that those who are opposed to Assad will get the kind of support they need in order to defeat him."
The comments came a day after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its crackdown on protests.
On Sunday, activists reported more shelling in the embattled city of Homs and said 56 people were killed across Syria, half of them civilians.
The death toll rose to at least 104 people killed over the weekend -- one of the bloodiest since the uprising against Assad's regime erupted almost 11 months ago.
Opposition groups say at least 6,000 people have now been killed in Syria since protests began.
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