Obama says Syria chemical weapons attack threatens Israel, Jordan

WASHINGTON Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:21am IST

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking to reporters about Syria during a meeting with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington August 30, 2013 REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking to reporters about Syria during a meeting with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington August 30, 2013

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday the chemical weapons attack in Syria threatened U.S. allies Israel, Turkey and Jordan and that while "nobody ends up being more war weary than me" he is considering a narrow, limited U.S. response.

Obama, speaking to reporters at a meeting he held with Baltic leaders, said the United States must be prepared to act unilaterally if necessary to uphold what he called an international norm against the use of chemical weapons as part of U.S. obligations as a world leader.

As he spoke, the U.S. intelligence community released a report that said an August 21 chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.

Obama, in the position of trying to persuade Americans weary of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to accept another U.S. involvement, insisted any military action he takes on Syria will be narrow and limited and not an open-ended, long-term commitment, nor would it involve U.S. troops on the ground.

"I assure you nobody ends up being more war weary than me, but what I also believe is that part of our obligations as a leader in the world is making sure that when you have a regime that is willing to use weapons that are prohibited by international norms on ... people, including children, that they are held to account," he said.

The United States and its allies have been unable to break through a deadlock in the U.N. Security Council given Russian and Chinese opposition to taking steps against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Given U.N. Security Council paralysis around the issue, he said, "a lot of people think something should be done but nobody wants to do it."

Obama said he had made no final determination on how to proceed but that he and his aides have been briefing congressional leaders and talking to foreign leaders about what is at stake.

He said U.S. allies Israel, Turkey and Jordan would be threatened, as well as U.S. national security interests, if Syria is allowed to use chemical weapons without retribution. Terrorists could get their hands on the weapons as well, he said.

International norms govern the control and use of such weapons, he said, but "if there is a sense that over time nobody is willing actually to enforce them, then people don't take them seriously."

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India Economy

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Defence Deal

Defence Deal

India nears $2.5 billion deal for Boeing military helicopters.  Full Article 

Rice Bucket Challenge

Rice Bucket Challenge

In India, rice replaces ice in bucket challenge  Full Article 

Power Crisis

Power Crisis

Indian power station coal stocks lowest since 2012 blackouts.  Full Article 

Bollywood Watch

Bollywood Watch

Movie Review: Raja Natwarlal.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Reliance plans $13 billion ln projects including new refinery.  Full Article 

Indian Super league

Indian Super league

Del Piero signs for Delhi.  Full Article 

U.S. Open

U.S. Open

Federer serves up win over big-serving Groth.  Full Article 

Health Crisis

Health Crisis

Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea.  Full Article 

Ukraine Fighting

Ukraine Fighting

Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage