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US forces move closer to Syria as options weighed

Posted by on Aug. 24, 2013 at 1:54 PM
  • 13 Replies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. naval forces are moving closer to Syria as President Barack Obama considers military options for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government. The president emphasized that a quick intervention in the Syrian civil war was problematic, given the international considerations that should precede a military strike.

The White House said the president would meet Saturday with his national security team to consider possible next steps by the United States. Officials say once the facts are clear, Obama will make a decision about how to proceed.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to discuss any specific force movements while saying that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria. U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press that the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria.

U.S. Navy ships are capable of a variety of military action, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, as they did against Libya in 2011 as part of an international action that led to the overthrow of the Libyan government.

"The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options - whatever options the president might choose," Hagel told reporters traveling with him to Asia.

Hagel said the U.S. is coordinating with the international community to determine "what exactly did happen" near Damascus earlier this week. According to reports, a chemical attack in a suburb of the capital killed at least 100 people. It would be the most heinous use of chemical weapons since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988.

Hagel left little doubt that he thinks the attack in Syria involved chemical weapons, although he stressed there is not yet a final answer. In discussing the matter, he said, "it appears to be what happened - use of chemical weapons."

The United Nations disarmament chief, Angela Kane, arrived in Damascus on Saturday to press the Syrian government to allow U.N. experts to investigate the alleged chemical attacks.

Obama remained cautious about getting involved in a war that has killed more than 100,000 people and now includes Hezbollah and al-Qaida. He made no mention of the "red line" of chemical weapons use that he marked out for Syrian President Bashar Assad a year ago and that U.S. intelligence says has been breached at least on a small scale several times since.

"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it - do we have the coalition to make it work?" Obama said Friday. "Those are considerations that we have to take into account."

Obama conceded in an interview on CNN's "New Day" program that the episode is a "big event of grave concern" that requires American attention. He said any large-scale chemical weapons usage would affect "core national interests" of the United States and its allies. But nothing he said signaled a shift toward U.S. action.

U.S. defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss ship movements publicly. But if the U.S. wants to send a message to Assad, the most likely military action would be a Tomahawk missile strike, launched from a ship in the Mediterranean.

For a year now, Obama has threatened to punish Assad's regime if it resorted to its chemical weapons arsenal, among the world's vastest, saying use or even deployment of such weapons of mass destruction constituted a "red line" for him. A U.S. intelligence assessment concluded in June chemical weapons have been used in Syria's civil war, but Washington has taken no military action against Assad's forces.

U.S. officials have instead focused on trying to organize a peace conference between the government and opposition. Obama has authorized weapons deliveries to rebel groups, but none are believed to have been sent so far.

In his first comments on Syria since the alleged chemical attack, Obama said the U.S. is still trying to find out what happened. Hagel said Friday that a determination on the chemical attack should be made swiftly because "there may be another attack coming," although he added that "we don't know" whether that will happen.

After rebels similarly reported chemical attacks in February, U.S. confirmation took more than four months. In this instance, a U.N. chemical weapons team is already on the ground in Syria. Assad's government, then as now, has rejected the claims as baseless.

Obama also cited the need for the U.S. to be part of a coalition in dealing with Syria. America's ability by itself to solve the Arab country's sectarian fighting is "overstated," he said.

by on Aug. 24, 2013 at 1:54 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Ednarooni160
by Eds on Aug. 24, 2013 at 2:33 PM
1 mom liked this

Obama said the U.S. is still trying to find out what happened.

He's a broken record and this "smells"..

143myboys9496
by Gold Member on Aug. 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM
1 mom liked this

 I heard a report that said they were waiting for tissue samples to come back.

I bet Barry's saying now..."What would Bush do?"

Quoting Ednarooni160:

Obama said the U.S. is still trying to find out what happened.

He's a broken record and this "smells"..

 

Billiejeens
by on Aug. 24, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Thanks for the feature Cafemom.

you rock

gludwig2000
by Gina on Aug. 24, 2013 at 5:16 PM
1 mom liked this
While its not our job to police the world, we are members of the UN, so if they give the go ahead, then I support any actions we take. I can understand not wanting to get into another war, but what was done against the people of Syria is horrible, and sometimes you just have to step in to protect innocents.
JanuaryBaby06
by Gold Member on Aug. 24, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Quoting gludwig2000:

While its not our job to police the world, we are members of the UN, so if they give the go ahead, then I support any actions we take. I can understand not wanting to get into another war, but what was done against the people of Syria is horrible, and sometimes you just have to step in to protect innocents.

i very much agree.
Billiejeens
by on Aug. 24, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Quoting gludwig2000:

While its not our job to police the world, we are members of the UN, so if they give the go ahead, then I support any actions we take. I can understand not wanting to get into another war, but what was done against the people of Syria is horrible, and sometimes you just have to step in to protect innocents.



So you were behind the Iraq war then since we went in to enforce UN resolutions, yes?
joey125
by Silver Member on Aug. 24, 2013 at 11:43 PM

I don't think the majority of American people have the stomach for another war, we are after all still in one.  Since the military is a very small percentage of the population, I would hate to see our troops put in harms way for a civil war.  Anyone so eager is go to war needs to have a reality check,  just visit some VA hospitals and see the horrific results.

gludwig2000
by Gina on Aug. 25, 2013 at 4:18 PM
1 mom liked this
Honestly, no, I didn't agree with the war in Iraq, nor did I agree with the reason Pres. Bush gave for going in. But I didn't protest it, simply accepted it as an action which I didn't understand, and I supported our troops. I never dogged Bush on it either. Don't get me wrong, when it comes to Syria, I don't want us in another war, I don't think that we can afford it, but my heart feels for the people of Syria, and when I think about all of the people who were just killed, all of the innocents, I realize that sometimes someone has to step in to help the little guy, in this case, the innocent people who really have nothing to do with what is going on over there. I don't want another war, but I do not believe that this is a time for us to stay out, and if we get UN support, all the better.
Quoting Billiejeens:

Quoting gludwig2000:

While its not our job to police the world, we are members of the UN, so if they give the go ahead, then I support any actions we take. I can understand not wanting to get into another war, but what was done against the people of Syria is horrible, and sometimes you just have to step in to protect innocents.



So you were behind the Iraq war then since we went in to enforce UN resolutions, yes?
Billiejeens
by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 9:10 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting gludwig2000:




I don't want war either, and I remember being a little surprised when Bush said "Iraq" but we went to enforce UN resolutions, anything else was ancillary.

We certainly had a UN Mandate and we had more UN support than we will ever get in Syria.

Truth is if we had not pissed around and just gone in when we should have the Syrians would not be using Iraq's gas on the people today.

grandmab125
by Gold Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 10:00 PM

 Just another example of Obama's 'leading from behind' bs.

Truth is if we had not pissed around and just gone in when we should have the Syrians would not be using Iraq's gas on the people today.

Quoting Billiejeens:

Quoting gludwig2000:




I don't want war either, and I remember being a little surprised when Bush said "Iraq" but we went to enforce UN resolutions, anything else was ancillary.

We certainly had a UN Mandate and we had more UN support than we will ever get in Syria.

Truth is if we had not pissed around and just gone in when we should have the Syrians would not be using Iraq's gas on the people today.

 

grandma B

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