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Obama pressured to intervene in Syria. Most Americans say 'no,' says poll (+video)

A senior administration official said Sunday there is 'very little doubt' that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against civilians. President Obama is under pressure to respond militarily, but a new poll finds most Americans are opposed.

By Staff writer / August 25, 2013

Activists and medics manufacture homemade chemical masks in the Damascus suburb of Zamalka. A senior administration official said Sunday there is 'very little doubt' that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians

Hadi Almonajed/Reuters

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US officials have confirmed that President Obama’s controversial “red line” on chemical weapons in Syria has been crossed. But that doesn’t mean Americans think he should do anything about it.

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If anything, public attitudes toward a US military response in the face of new evidence that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its own people have hardened, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought Mr. Obama should act, Reuters reported.

That majority opposition holds even in the face of evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, the poll finds.

“Taken together, the polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb this week, may actually be hardening many Americans' resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East,” Reuters reports. “The results – and Reuters/Ipsos polling on the use-of-chemicals question since early June – suggest that if Obama decides to undertake military action against Assad's regime, he will do so in the face of steady opposition from an American public wary after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But the new poll, and previous surveys by other news organizations showing similar antiwar sentiments, haven’t let Obama off the political hook on Syria – particularly since, as the Hill magazine put it Sunday, the president has “boxed himself in on the issue” with his “red line” comment.

(Asked in August of last year about reports that Syria may be preparing to use chemical weapons against rebels, Obama said: "We have been very clear to the [Assad] regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.")

Speaking to The Associated Press, a senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an incident that killed at least 100 people last week.

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