News / USA

Obama: Syria Action Would be Limited, No Decision Yet

U.S. President Barack Obama looks up during a meeting with Baltic leaders at the White House, Aug. 30,  2013.  During the meeting the president spoke with reporters about the crisis in Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama looks up during a meeting with Baltic leaders at the White House, Aug. 30, 2013. During the meeting the president spoke with reporters about the crisis in Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he continues to assess options for "limited, narrow" military action in response to the deadly chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21.  President Obama spoke after Secretary of State John Kerry summarized a U.S. intelligence report he said confirms Syrian government responsibility.  

Obama's remarks came in the White House Cabinet Room at the beginning of a meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

He had met earlier with his national security advisers to assess options for a military response to the chemical attack in the Syrian capital.

Obama referred to the release earlier of the U.S. intelligence report that he said detailed with "high confidence" that the government of President Bashar al-Assad carried out the attack.

"This kind of attack is a challenge to the world.  We cannot accept a world where women and children, and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale,
 he said.  "This kind of attack threatens our national security interests, by violating well-established international norms against the use of chemical weapons."

Obama discussed limitations on any action he may decide upon.

"In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, any long-term campaign, but we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow, act that would help make sure that not only Syria but others around the world understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm," he said.  

Obama knows there is war weariness in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.  The president referred to what he called "a certain suspicion" about any military action in the wake of the Iraq war.

But he said the scale of the chemical attack in Syria demands action.

"Part of our obligation as a leader in the world is making sure that when you have a regime that is going to use weapons that are prohibited by international norms on their own people, including children, that they are held to account," he said.

Full Obama statement:



Earlier, Secretary Kerry accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of a "crime against conscience and humanity," saying intelligence shows Syrian government knowledge of the attack.

"We know that for three days before the attack, the Syrian regime's chemical personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations," he said. "And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks, and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.  We know these were specific instructions."

Kerry said the United States knows that chemical-laden rockets came only from regime-controlled areas, and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.

Full Kerry statement:



The U.S. intelligence report says a senior regime official knew about the attack and confirmed that chemical weapons were used, reviewed the impact, and was afraid they would be discovered.

Kerry said at least 1,429 Syrians were killed, including at least 426 children.

Syria denies carrying out chemical attacks, including what the U.S. said was a smaller scale attack earlier in the year, and accuses rebels of using such weapons on Syrian soldiers.

Kerry said the U.S. intelligence community has high confidence in all the things it knows, and said the question now is what America and the world will do about it.

"We need to ask what is the risk of doing nothing?  It matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, even after the United States and its allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will," he said.

President Obama faces pressure from members of Congress to allow a vote on any military action.  Polls show many Americans oppose or are skeptical about any military response.

Obama said Friday that consultations will continue with U.S. lawmakers.

Two former U.S. presidents have weighed in.  Former Republican president George W. Bush said Obama has a "tough choice to make".  

Former Democratic president Jimmy Carter said a punitive military response would be illegal under international law and "only harden existing positions and postpone a sorely needed political process" in Syria.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid