UPDATE 2-Britain, U.S. see limits to foreign role in Syria

Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:55pm GMT

* U.S., Britain defend response to Syria violence

* Gates says Gaddafi not target of Western action (Adds quotes, background)

By Missy Ryan and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON, April 26 (Reuters) - U.S. and British defense chiefs played down on Tuesday the possibility of a Libya-style intervention in Syria, with Britain's Liam Fox saying there were "practical limitations" to Western military power.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are accused of killing hundreds of protesters in an effort to quash demands for an end to his autocratic rule.

But Assad has been spared the threat of NATO air strikes like the ones pounding Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces with the U.N.-backed objective of protecting civilians.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Fox condemned the killings in Syria. But Fox made clear the two countries' militaries, already stretched by campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya, could only do so much.

"We can't do everything all the time and we have to recognize that there are practical limitations to what our countries can do," said Fox, who along with Gates was asked about the lack of Western intervention in Syria.

Gates said he agreed with "everything Dr. Fox said."   Continued...

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