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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 28th, 2013
06:30 PM ET

Reporter: White House asks for no-fly zone plan inside Syria

Just last month, President Barack Obama said he wanted options in war-torn Syria.

"As early as last year, I asked the Pentagon, our military, our intelligence officials to prepare for me what options might be available. And I won't go into the details of what those options might be," said Obama.

It now appears the Obama administration  is exploring one particular option in depth.

"The White House has tasked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan for a no-fly zone inside Syria, that would be done on a multilateral basis with countries such as France and Britain," said Newsweek/The Daily Beast's senior correspondent Josh Rogin.

Read Josh Rogin's exclusive reporting on the Syria no-fly zone plan here.

Delegates from the Bashar al Assad regime will be attending proposed peace talks in Geneva, the Russian ambassador to the U.N. told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. But it remains unclear if the Syrian rebels will be joining them. Meanwhile, the European Union decided to end the arms embargo against Syrian rebels, and Russia's response was to go ahead with a delivery of surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian government.

The Obama administration wants a politically negotiated solution between the Assad regime and the opposition, and the upcoming conference in Geneva is the best chance to achieve that solution.

"But most people think that that's likely to fail. The opposition wants Assad to go, Assad's not going to agree to go, so we have to plan for options after Geneva," said Rogin.

Beyond a no-fly zone, the administration is also considering arming elements of the Syrian opposition that are moderate and support the U.S., said Rogin, and switching recognition from the Assad regime to the opposition.

"There's a menu of options that the Obama administration is considering more than ever, if and when the political solution becomes more and more unlikely," said Rogin.

The U.N. estimates that more than 70,000 Syrians have been killed since anti-government protests in March 2011 led to a fierce government crackdown, an armed uprising and a bloody civil war. The war has uprooted a quarter of the country's 22 million civilians.

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