Syria crosses 'red line' on chemical weapons. How will Obama respond? (+video)
US officials say the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons 'multiple times' to kill at least 100 rebel fighters and civilians. Obama had warned Syria of 'enormous consequences' if it crossed that 'red line.'
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But Obama has been under increasing pressure to do more about the situation in Syria, which has seen, according to the latest UN estimate, at least 93,000 people killed – most of them civilians – and thousands more turned into refugees trying to escape the fighting.Skip to next paragraph
Staff writer and editor
Brad Knickerbocker is a staff writer and editor based in Ashland, Oregon.
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In recent weeks, Britain, France, Israel, and the United Nations all have asserted that Assad regime forces had used chemical weapons. Domestic political pressure has been mounting as well.
“It is long past time to bring the Assad regime’s bloodshed in Syria to an end,” Buck Brendan, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in a statement Thursday. “As President Obama examines his options, it is our hope he will properly consult with Congress before taking any action.”
In a joint statement, Senators John McCain (R) of Arizona and Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, who are pushing for the US and its allies to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, said, “We cannot afford to delay any longer.”
“Assad is on the offensive with every weapon in his arsenal and with the complete support of his foreign allies,” they said. “We must take more decisive actions now to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria.”
More to the point for a Democratic President in the White House, former President Bill Clinton this week sided with that view, according to several reports from a private meeting at which Senator McCain and Mr. Clinton spoke.
“Some people say, ‘Okay, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!’ I think that’s a big mistake,” Clinton said.
“I agree with you about this,” Clinton told McCain during an event for the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Manhattan Tuesday night, Politico.com reported. “Sometimes it’s just best to get caught trying, as long as you don’t overcommit.”
At this point, the Obama administration is being less than specific in its response the “red line” report about chemical weapons killing rebel fighters and likely civilians in Syria.
“The Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition,” Ben Rhodes at the White House said. “These efforts will increase going forward.”
“The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available,” Rhodes said. “We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline.”