U.S. options on Syria include multi-day strikes: official

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:52am EDT

A woman (2nd R) affected by what activists said was an apparent gas attack is lead to a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts for checking during the team's visit to one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus' suburb of Zamalka August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah

A woman (2nd R) affected by what activists said was an apparent gas attack is lead to a team of U.N. chemical weapons experts for checking during the team's visit to one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus' suburb of Zamalka August 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abdullah

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is considering military options that include multi-day strikes on Syrian government targets in response to last week's chemical weapons attack, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

"The options are not limited to just one day," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, as the prospects for a U.S.-led air and missile assault on Syria looked all but certain.

Though the White House said President Barack Obama had yet to make a final decision on exactly how to respond, U.S. security officials have said that any air campaign would likely involve cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in the Mediterranean.

But the United States does not intend to act unilaterally should it choose to go forward with military action, the senior official said. "We're talking to a number of different allies regarding participation," the official said.

Obama, who has long been wary of any intervention in Syria's civil war, has been consulting allied leaders to lay the groundwork for action aimed at punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for last Wednesday's gas attack near Damascus.

U.S. intelligence agencies were assembling what they are sure to say is final confirmation of the Syrian government's culpability for the chemical weapons attack, and the White House said their report would be completed this week. Assad's government has denied responsibility.

A second administration official said the United States was still defining its objectives but that strikes to deter Assad from using chemical weapons in the future and degrade his ability to do so were under consideration.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that a U.S. response would not have the goal of "regime change" in Syria, suggesting that Obama remains cautious about getting too deeply involved in the conflict. Polls show most Americans oppose U.S. intervention.

Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, a harsh critic of Obama's Syria policy, rejected that limited goal.

"This conflict cannot be contained within Syria, and we have to understand that and that's why we've got to help these people get rid of Bashar al-Assad, to get the momentum back on their side," he said on MSNBC.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Arshad Mohammed, Phil Stewart, Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey; writing by Matt Spetalnick and Susan Heavey; Editing by David Storey)

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Comments (5)
Harry079 wrote:
“Obama, who has long been wary of any intervention in Syria’s civil war”

Then why do anything? What good would lobbing a dozen or so cruise missles do when Syria has a weeks advance notice?

He could fill those buildings with rebel prisoners or any other people that he wants to get rid of.

Aug 28, 2013 2:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:
@Harry079

I disagree with the statement that he has been wary of any inteverntion. We have already intervened by providing material support and training to the rebels. He didn’t sound to wary when he drew the red line either. He isn’t too wary to bomb people including Americans from unmanned aircraft overseas. He is every bit the warmonger that Bush was. A look at our defense spending during his Presidency confirms this.

Aug 28, 2013 2:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:
McCain is senile if he thinks that deposing Assad in Syria is going to look anything different than Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt or Libya after their regime change. The Islamists we supported in overthrowing Saddam Hussien, Mubarek and Ghaddafi will not behave any differently in Syria. They will sell us out as soon as they think they no longer need us (see Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) and we continue to fall for the same tactic every time under the flag humanitarian support.

Al Queda has a tradition of killing all who do not embrace their agenda of a caliphate including those Muslims that do not embrace their version of Islam (see the Alawites in Syria, and the Coptic Christians in Eqypt).

I have a lot of admiration for McCain for his military service to this country. As a politician, John has overstayed his welcome and now only represents the Beltway interests in AZ. He needs to get back on his medications and announce his retirement (please?).

Aug 28, 2013 2:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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