Obama: Limited strike will send message

sherieholder, sherieholder@nationnews.com

Added 10 September 2013

Facing weak support for U.S. military action, President Barack Obama said that a plan suggested by Russia to have Syria hand over its chemical arsenal to international control could avert American strikes "if it's real." Syria's prime minister said Damascus supports the Russian initiative. Will Moscow's proposal delay or, perhaps, prevent a U.S. strike? Can Obama sway Americans to support military action in case the U.S. government and others become dissatisfied by the diplomatic process? The president made his case in a televised speech Tuesday night, though -- even after he spoke -- many questions remained. President Barack Obama pointed Tuesday night to "encouraging signs" in diplomatic efforts to address the crisis in Syria, crediting these "in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action." These efforts could include Syria handing over its chemical weapons, a move that Obama said has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without military intervention. • The United States and its military will "be in position to respond if diplomacy fails" to address the crisis in Syria, Obama said, not ruling out military intervention in the war-torn country. • Targeted military strikes against Syria would serve several purposes, including deterring Syria's government from using chemical weapons, making it more difficult for them to do so and making clear to the world that the use of chemical weapons won't be tolerated, Obama said. "I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria," Obama said. He also vowed not to "pursue an open-ended action" in the war-torn country. • Obama said that while any U.S. military action would be limited, "even a limited strike will send a message" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government. • Obama accused Syrian forces of preparing for the August 21 attacks, passing out gas masks, then firing rockets into a rebel stronghold outside Damascus. • Obama said Syria's government violated the "basic rules" of warfare, adding: "The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America (will) do about Obama said "the situation (in Syria) profoundly changed on August 21," referring to a chemical weapons attack he blames on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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