WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said Friday the United States was weighing “limited, narrow” action against Syria, insisting the world had a duty to act after hundreds of women and children were gassed to death.
Obama emphasized he had made no “final decision” on unleashing military strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but gave his clearest indication yet that an attack was imminent.
His remarks came after the United States released an intelligence report that concluded the regime had launched a chemical onslaught in the suburbs of Damascus last week, killing 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.
“This kind of attack is a challenge to the world,” Obama told reporters at the White House.
“We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale,” he said, calling the attack a threat to US national security interests.
“The world has an obligation to make sure we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons,” the president said, slamming the failure of the UN Security Council to agree on action.
Obama said he was looking at a “wide range of options” but had ruled out “boots on the ground” or a “long-term campaign.”
“We are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act,” he added.
France gave its backing to the US plans, saying a “strong message” should be sent to the Assad regime, but British lawmakers have voted against any involvement in military action and other close US allies said they would not sign up.
Russia, Syria’s most powerful ally, has questioned US intelligence about the August 21 gas attacks and has warned against any military strikes without UN backing.
In Damascus, UN experts completed their investigation into the attacks east of the capital and said they would “expedite” a report on whether chemical weapons had been used there.