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Home News Afro Briefs Originally published August 30, 2013

Obama Weighs U.S. Response to Syrian Chemical Weapons Use

by Alexis Taylor
AFRO Staff Writer

  •   Click on the photo to view additional Photos.
    President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during his meeting with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. Speaking about Syria, the president said 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. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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The alleged use of a nerve agent on Syrian civilians Aug. 21 continues to wreak havoc on a world-wide scale, as governments across the globe consider, talk, and vote about responding to the attack.

On Aug. 30 the White House released an unclassified assessment of the chemical attack in Damascus that President Obama said was carried out by the Syrian government, taking the lives of 1,429 people, more than 400 of them children.

"This kind of attack is a challenge to the world,” said Obama in a statement on the conflict. “We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale.”

“This kind of attack threatens our national security interests by violating well-established international norms against the use of chemical weapons by further threatening friends and allies of ours in the region, like Israel and Turkey and Jordan,” Obama continued. “And it increases the risk that chemical weapons will be used in the future and fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us.”

In the assessment, Obama said U.S. officials reviewed “thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations,” to confirm the chemical attack.

And he’s not the only one now concerned about how Syrians are dying.

“All those in Syria have a stake in finding out the truth,” said a statement this week from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The whole world should be concerned about any threat or use of chemical weapons.”

President Obama was joined by three other leaders when he announced that U.S. leaders are considering many different options- none of which include deploying troops onto Syrian land. The presidents of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia were by his side when he made his statement.

“In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground; that would involve a long-term campaign,” he said. “But we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world, understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm.”

Along with the President, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been very vocal about American retaliation.

“We know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons programs in the entire Middle East,” said Kerry in a statement. “We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year, and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened.”

Still, not all Americans are convinced of the accusations and alleged evidence, and the Syrian government is still adamantly denying they played a role in the chemical attack.

“The source said that the numbers quoted by Kerry are fictional and produced by armed groups in Syria and the opposition abroad, both of whom instigate the US aggression, adding that this scene brings to mind the lies promoted by Colin Powell before the invasion of Iraq,” said a statement by a Foreign and Expatriates Ministry source, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

“What Kerry presented is based on old stories published by terrorists over a week ago.”



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