World News

Obama, UN Weigh Syria Response

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has not decided on how to respond to the chemical weapons attack in Syria, but with his administration convinced the Syrian government is at fault, he vowed that those who break international norms need to be held accountable.

Mr. Obama told PBS television's NewsHour Wednesday that any military strike would be limited, sending President Bashar al-Assad a message that future chemical weapons attacks would not be tolerated. He said he has no interest in an open-ended conflict in Syria.

The Syrian government has denied carrying out a chemical attack.

On Thursday, White House officials are due to brief members of Congress on intelligence about the attack last week that killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburbs. They plan to later publicly release an unclassified version of the report.

The discussion among U.S. officials comes as the United Nations Security Council considers a British-drafted resolution on possible military action.

Diplomats from the council's five permanent members began talks Wednesday, but the measure is unlikely to advance because of Russian and Chinese opposition to outside intervention.



Those two nations have used their veto power three times since 2011 to block resolutions targeting the Syrian government.

The United States signaled Wednesday it will not let diplomatic paralysis at the U.N. prevent it from responding.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Syria "cannot continue to hide" behind Russia's stance at the U.N., and that the U.S. sees no way forward with Russia opposing "any meaningful action."

Harf said Washington will consult with its allies as it considers its own military strike against Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry Wednesday said U.N. action on Syria would be premature before chemical weapons inspectors in Damascus finish their work.

The U.N. investigators spent Monday and Wednesday collecting samples and conducting interviews at attack sites in the Damascus area.

Syria's U.N. ambassador Bashar Ja'afari repeated Syria's denial that its forces were responsible for the chemical attack. He accused terrorists -- the government's word for the rebels opposed to Mr. Assad -- of using the weapons against Syrian soldiers.

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there is no evidence the Syrian opposition has the capability or even the desire to use chemical weapons. Hague said all the evidence points in one direction. He also accused the U.N. Security Council of failing to shoulder its responsibilities on Syria for the last two years.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs