President Barack Obama says he hasn't made a final decision about a military strike against Syria. But he says he's considering a limited and narrow action in response to a chemical weapons attack that he says Syria's government carried out last week.
Obama says that attack was a challenge to the world and threatens U.S. national security.
Obama's comment came after the U.S. released an intelligence assessment that found with "high confidence" that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week.Obama says he recognizes the world and the U.S. are war-weary in the face of potential military action against Syria. But he says the United States has an obligation "as a leader in the world" to hold countries accountable if they violate international norms. Obama says he has strong preference for multilateral action. But he says, quote, "we don't want the world to be paralyzed." Regarding the U.N., Obama says, "there is an incapacity for the Security Council to move forward." Despite a vote in Britain against taking action in Syria, Obama indicates that France is with him. Obama's comments came as his administration made its intelligence case against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for a chemical attack against civilians earlier this month.
The U.S. says the attack killed more than 1,400 people.Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier Friday the U.S. knows based on intelligence that the Syrian regime carefully prepared for days to launch a chemical weapons attack. Kerry said Syrian regime personnel were on the ground for three days beforehand, making preparations. He said regime elements were told to prepare by putting on gas masks. Kerry said the U.S. also knows where the rockets were launched from. He said the rockets came from regime-controlled areas. Kerry also said a senior regime official confirmed that the weapons were used and was afraid it would be discovered. The U.S. has released a public report on intelligence gathered about last week's deadly attack. Obama is poised to become the first U.S. leader in three decades to attack a foreign nation without broad international support or in direct defense of Americans. Not since President Ronald Reagan ordered an invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983 has the U.S. been so alone in pursuing major lethal military action beyond a few attacks responding to strikes or threats against its citizens. It's a policy turnabout for Obama, a Democrat who took office promising to limit U.S. military intervention. But he has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that use of chemical weapons in its two-year civil war would be a "red line" that would provoke a strong U.S. response. So far, only France has indicated it would join a U.S. strike on Syria.