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"Syria is a very different challenge" from Libya, where American-led NATO forces recently helped end the reign of dictator Muammar Gadhafi, Dempsey added. "It's a different challenge, as you described it, geographically. It's a different challenge in terms of the capability the Syrian military. They are very capable."
Dempsey also called plans to simply arm the opposition "premature."
"I would challenge anyone to clearly identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point," Dempsey said, adding that the crisis had grown increasingly complicated over the months.