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Obama Weighs Syria Decision


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony at the White House, Aug. 26, 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony at the White House, Aug. 26, 2013.

When President Barack Obama makes a decision about a response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, the White House says he will lay out the case to the American people and the world.

After Secretary of State Kerry's statement Monday on Syria and the chemical attacks, Obama's spokesman faced a barrage of questions from reporters at the White House news briefing.

When might President Obama make his decision? What response would be proportional to the reported chemical weapons attack? And how will Congress be involved?

White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to speculate about a potential military response to what the U.S. calls a violation of an international norm against the use of chemical weapons.

White House press secretary Jay Carney gestures during the daily press briefing at the White House, Aug. 26, 2013.

White House press secretary Jay Carney gestures during the daily press briefing at the White House, Aug. 26, 2013.

Carney said Obama still envisions a response that would not involve U.S. personnel on the ground in Syria.

He said the president will consult with allies and partners and members of Congress, although the White House is not, for the moment, revealing details about conversations with lawmakers.

Carney said Obama agrees with Kerry who said he believes the August 21 chemical attack was carried out by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"It demonstrates a disregard for international norms of behavior, and a disregard for innocent life, and in this case for the innocent life of fellow Syrians that is appalling," he said. "Indiscriminate killing of innocent women and children in an attempt to maintain his bloody grasp on to power is despicable, but that is what we have come to expect from Bashar al-Assad."

Carney said any U.S. response would be specific to the chemical weapons attack as opposed to a wider involvement in the Syrian conflict.

He said a solution to Syria's civil war must ultimately involve a negotiated settlement, but he acknowledged that negotiations have become more unattainable.

"The fact that Assad has continued to barbarically attack his own people using means now that boggle the mind, and violate international norms, makes the potential for that kind of negotiated solution more difficult," Carney said. "But there is no solution as we have long made clear, for Syria's future, that includes Assad."

Asked about the legal basis for a military strike, the White House spokesman declined to speculate about a decision that has not been made. He said Obama will eventually explain his decision to the American people.

Related video report by Luis Ramirez at the Pentagon

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