Obama says he's considering 'narrow' Syria action

Obama says he's considering 'narrow' Syria action

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WASHINGTON, DC -

President Barack Obama says he hasn't made a final decision about a military strike against Syria. But he says he's considering a limited and narrow action in response to a chemical weapons attack that he says Syria's government carried out last week.

Obama says that attack was a challenge to the world and threatens U.S. national security.

Obama's comment came after the U.S. released an intelligence assessment that found with "high confidence" that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week.

The U.S. says the attack killed more than 1,400 people.

Obama spoke before meeting at the White House with three Baltic leaders.

Obama says he recognizes the world and the U.S. are war-weary in the face of potential military action against Syria.

But he says the United States has an obligation "as a leader in the world" to hold countries accountable if they violate international norms.

Obama says he has strong preference for multilateral action. But he says, quote, "we don't want the world to be paralyzed."

Regarding the U.N., Obama says, quote, "there is an incapacity for the Security Council to move forward."

Despite a vote in Britain against taking action in Syria, Obama indicates that France is with him.

No "boots on the ground," Obama said, seeking to reassure Americans weary after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With France as his only major public ally, Obama told reporters he has a strong preference for multilateral action. He added, "Frankly, part of the challenge we end up with here is a lot of people think something should be done but nobody wants to do it."

Halfway around the world, U.S. warships were in place in the Mediterranean Sea. They carried cruise missiles, long a first-line weapon of choice for presidents because they can find a target hundreds of miles distant without need of air cover or troops on the ground.

In what appeared increasingly like the pre-attack endgame, U.N. personnel dispatched to Syria carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in last week's attack. The international contingent arranged to depart on Saturday and head to laboratories in Europe with the samples they have collected.

Video said to be taken at the scene shows victims writhing in pain, twitching and exhibiting other symptoms associated with exposure to nerve agents. The videos distributed by activists to support their claims of a chemical attack were consistent with Associated Press reporting of shelling in the suburbs of Damascus at the time, though it was not known if the victims had died from a poisonous gas attack.

The Syrian government said administration claims were "flagrant lies" akin to faulty Bush administration assertions before the Iraq invasion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. A Foreign Ministry statement read on state TV said that "under the pretext of protecting the Syrian people, they are making a case for an aggression that will kill hundreds of innocent Syrian civilians."



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