Obama Weighing Strike on Syria

President calls alleged chemical strike 'a big event of grave concern'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 23, 2013 7:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Top Obama administration officials met yesterday to discuss potential military responses to what may have been the worst chemical weapons attack in decades. Officials were "sharply divided" and emerged from three-and-a-half hours of discussions about Syria without reaching a decision, the New York Times reports; options on the table reportedly include cruise missile strikes and a sustained air campaign. The Pentagon, meanwhile, updated its list of possible "regime targets," the Wall Street Journal reports. More:

  • When asked if the government intended to move faster now in Syria, President Obama gave CNN a one-word reply: "Yes." He said the US is still "gathering information," but noted that "what we've seen indicates that this is clearly a big event of grave concern."
  • Of course, the Times points out that gathering information on Syria's last round of chemical attacks proved time-consuming and difficult. Obama has also previously announced action in the form of arming the rebels, which still hasn't happened.
  • Not that there isn't ample evidence suggesting a chemical attack. The latest: First responders at the scene have been dying, with symptoms similar to the victims they were tending to, USA Today reports.
  • Any US action would be designed not to end Syria's civil war, but simply to punish Assad, officials tell the Journal. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has publicly warned of the risks of prolonged military intervention in Syria.
  • Meanwhile, in another sign of how bad things have gotten for Syria, UN officials have announced that the conflict has now produced a million child refugees, the BBC reports.

Several bodies are buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.
Several bodies are buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)
President Barack Obama listens to French President Francois Hollande during the G-8 summit at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
President Barack Obama listens to French President Francois Hollande during the G-8 summit at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, June 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Columns of smoke rising from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood in west Damascus, in Cairo, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013.
Columns of smoke rising from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood in west Damascus, in Cairo, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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