No final decision on Syria strike yet: Obama

August 31, 2013

US President Barack Obama said Friday he had taken no “final decision” on striking Syria but that the world could not accept the gassing of women and children. Calling Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons a threat to US national security, Obama said the response would be “narrow” and “limited.” Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Syrian government forces
killed 1,429 people in a chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week.
Mr Kerry said the dead included 426 children, and described the attack as an “inconceivable horror”.
He did not mention military strikes, and said the government would consult Congress leaders over the next step.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad has denied carrying out the attack and blames rebel forces.
UN chemical weapons inspectors are investigating evidence for the chemical attacks and will present their evidence to the UN after they leave Damascus on Saturday.
But Mr Kerry said the US now had the facts, which the government has published in a four-page assessment.
Key US intelligence findings
• US estimates the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August killed 1,429 people, including 426 children
• Assesses with “high confidence” that Syrian government carried out the attack against opposition elements
• Laboratory analysis from victims of the incident revealed exposure to the nerve agent, sarin
• Assesses it is “highly unlikely” that opposition forces executed the attack
• Assesses with “high confidence” that Syrian government has carried out multiple chemical weapons attacks on a small scale this year
• Assesses the opposition has not used chemical weapons
He said the evidence showed 1,429 people had been killed. and that regime forces had prepared for the attack three days earlier.
“We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and landed only in opposition-held areas,” he said. “All of these things we know, the American intelligence community has high confidence.”
The US is pushing for intervention to stop the Syrian government from using chemical weapons.
But the UN Security Council is unlikely to approve any military intervention because permanent member Russia is a close ally of the Syrian government, and has vetoed two previous draft resolutions.
The US was also dealt a blow on Thursday when the UK parliament rejected a motion supporting the principle of military intervention.
The vote rules the UK out of any potential alliance.
However, US officials said they would continue to
push for a coalition, and France said it would support the US.

-With The Independent input

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