U.S. President Barack Obama says the civil war in Syria cannot be resolved by military means alone.
Speaking after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande Friday at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Mr. Obama said any strike on Damascus would be aimed at degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capacity. But, he said, the world must continue working toward a transition that can restore stability, prosperity, peace and legitimacy to Syria.
The French president supports Mr. Obama's call for an allied military strike on the Assad regime in Damascus in response to last month's deadly chemical-weapons attack on civilian areas near the capital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained adamantly opposed to any Western military action in Syria, and - with China - Russia has blocked the U.N. Security Council from intervening in the civil war.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power says the U.S. administration plan for limited military action against Syria is the least the world powers should do.
Speaking in Washington Friday, she said President Bashar al-Assad has an enormous stockpile of illegal chemical weapons, and recent activity has barely put a dent in his arsenal.
Beyond that, Power said, the international community has not put a dent in Mr. Assad's willingness to use chemical weapons.;
U.S. officials say they have evidence that more than 1,400 people were killed by poison gas in an attack on August 21 in areas on the fringe of Damascus populated by supporters of the opposition.
Mr. Obama is trying to win international support for military a targeted military strike against the Syrian government. Polls show that most of the American people oppose the plan, but President Obama plans a nationwide address Tuesday evening to gain support for his plan. He says he also will continue to work with Congress on a resolution to authorize military action.
Before heading home from the G20 summit Friday, the U.S. president said the war in Syria poses significant risks to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Those neighboring countries have taken in most of the two million people who have fled the violence in Syria so far.
In addition to its proposal to reduce Syria's ability to use chemical weapons, Mr. Obama noted the United States also is helping provide basic relief for Syrian refugees.