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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora