News / Middle East

US Ramps Up Case for Military Response to Syria

Guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage seen operating in the Arabian Gulf, one of four U.S. destroyers currently deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, could potentially be used to strike Syria, undated file image.
Guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage seen operating in the Arabian Gulf, one of four U.S. destroyers currently deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, could potentially be used to strike Syria, undated file image.
The United States continues its campaign to persuade its citizens and the world to back a military response to allegations that Syria has used chemical weapons against civilians.
 
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to speak in Washington at about 12:30 p.m. (16:30 UTC) on the evidence against Syria. And the government is expected to release an unclassified report on that evidence following meetings with President Barack Obama and his advisers.
 
Obama faces a tough fight to build support for what is expected to be a limited military attack against the Damascus government.
 
Many U.S. voters and several members of Congress remain skeptical about the need for any U.S. involvement in Syria. That sentiment is shared in other parts of the world.
 
Syria denies carrying out a chemical attack and accuses the rebels of using such weapons on Syrian soldiers.
 
British dilemma
 
Britain's lower house of Parliament rejected a motion for British participation in a military strike. The non-binding vote is a setback to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who told lawmakers a strike would be a response to a war crime, not an attempt to topple the Syrian government.
 
Germany, another U.S. ally, says it will not take part in a military action, although the government has not opposed such an action.
 
Despite the British vote, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says, "Our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together."
 
There is considerable international condemnation for what appears to have been a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians on August 21.
 
U.S. ally France remains committed to a "firm and proportionate action" in response to that attack.
 
And in Tokyo, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan's Cabinet members agree that the use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated under any circumstance and responsibility for their use lies with the Assad government.
 
Japan plans to provide humanitarian assistance, especially to refugees displaced by the fighting inside Syria.
 
US lawmakers seek clarity
 
Secretary Hagel was among a group of senior administration officials who briefed members of Congress late Thursday on Syria. Officials explained why they believe the Assad government is to blame for the suspected chemical attack near Damascus last week.
 
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have asked the White House for the legal justification for a military strike and its objectives.
 
Members of Congress who took part in the briefing said there is no doubt the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack.
 
Democratic Representative Eliot Engel of New York said the U.S. officials cited intercepted communications between senior Syrian officials. Engel also said intelligence showed the Syrians moved materials around in advance of a chemical strike.
 
Earlier Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that along with circumstantial evidence, the United States has classified intelligence that undoubtedly points to an attack by the Syrian government.
 
UN inspectors winding down
 
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world powers to hold off on possible military action until a U.N. chemical weapons inspection team completes its work in the country.
 
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq on Thursday said the team investigating the August 21 attack near Damascus would leave the country by Saturday morning. He said U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane and other inspectors will be in New York in the coming days to brief Ban.
 
"They will have a large number of facts at their disposal, they’ve collected considerable amount of evidence — evidence through samples, evidence through witness interviews — they can construct from that a fact-based narrative that can get at the key facts of what happened," he said.
 
No international consensus
 
International military deployments directed toward SyriaInternational military deployments directed toward Syria
x
International military deployments directed toward Syria
International military deployments directed toward Syria
Despite two meetings of members of the United Nations Security Council, there has been no agreement on any sort of U.N. authorization for action against Syria.
 
China and Russia have blocked previous attempts at the U.N. to impose sanctions on President Assad’s regime. That has led to frustration for the U.S. and its European allies.
 
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief foreign policy aide said the British decision shows that "people are beginning to understand" the dangers of a military strike.
 
Other nations have argued against a strike. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said his government and Russia will work to prevent an attack on Syria, and warned any assault could “bring great costs” to the region.
 
The United Nations and aid groups report new refugee flows to neighboring countries: already more than 2 million Syrians have fled, half of them children.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: Michigan, USA
August 30, 2013 3:15 PM
Sanctioned by the UN or not, any US-led attack on Syria will not only be thankless but also disastrous for the US image and interests, without resulting in any relief for the victims of the Bashar Assad tyranny. On the other hand, it will further endanger the position of some innocent bystanders of the Arab-Muslim world, e.g. the Christians, the Jews, and the Kurds and the Baluchs, the only sincere well-wishers of the West in those vast fanaticism-ridden regions.

The best way for President Obama and fellow Americans to record their deep sincere sympathies for the victims of the Bashar Assad tyranny is to loudly condemn the Arab & Muslim countries for their hypocrisy and inaction concerning Syria. President Obama should challenge all the Arab-Muslim countries by asking them to go to the UN and unanimously demand an Arab-Muslim-led UN military attack aimed at 1) replacing the Assad regime with a provisional UN-supervised government, 2) asking the International Court of Justice at the Hague to try Bashar Assad & Co. for possessing & using chemical weapons and for their crimes against humanity, and 3) making Syria a chemical-nuclear-weapon-free as well as al-Qaedah-free country.

Given the vast trade and other interests of China and Russia in Arab-Muslim countries, these Arab-Muslim countries, if sincere, can 'convince' China and Russia to support their demand for the UN action against the Assad regime as mentioned above.

The hypothesis is wrong that if the Assad regime is not punished for its possession and use of chemical weapons against its own citizens it will use them against others, e.g. the West and its allies including Israel. The Arab-Muslim demagogues are 'smart' enough never to use such weapons against the West and its allies because they know that the response will be swift and devastating -- and it must be. Besides, the possession of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime must have been addressed by the West long before, the way we are dealing with Iran concerning its nuclear capability. We should not have waited for a civil war to deal with the issue. Also, we have to be consistent. Our hue and cry concerning Iran's INTENTIONS to have nuclear weapons cannot be convincing while allowing another rogue state, Pakistan, to make an alarmingly large number of the same.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 30, 2013 1:49 PM
The world is aware of the consequences of a strike on Syria. But that does not justify the use of the poison gas by the Assad regime. A no-vote to take action on Assad and his regime will be giving clout to others like Assad to use whatever weapon they wish on their people and others provided they have Russia or China to defend them at the UN. At the same time a strike on Syria that brings about the mistake made in Libya where all the terrorist jihadists have been given quarters in preference to a Muamar Gaddafi government is wrong. It is important to understand what is needed in Syria, not just a strike that will provide another safe haven for al qaida, Hezbollah and other extremist jihadist groups thereby worsening the security situation in the region, especially to Israel.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs