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Peace Prize Prez Prepared to Pound

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Military strikes on Syria 'as early as Thursday,' US officials say

Officials tell NBC News they have intelligence intercepts tying the chemical attacks to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The White House is now waiting for a report from the U.N. team that arrived at the attack site Monday. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

The U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

The State Department fed the growing drumbeat around the world for a military response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels Aug. 21 near Damascus, saying that while the U.S. intelligence community would release a formal assessment within the week, it was already "crystal clear" that Assad's government was responsible.

Vice President Joe Biden went even further, bluntly telling an American Legion audience in Houston: "Chemical weapons have been used."

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the president's response in a speech to the American Legion.

"No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and there's no doubt who's responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime," Biden said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated Tuesday that the White House isn't considering the deliberate overthrow of Assad.

"The options that we are considering are not about regime change," said during a daily briefing with reporters. "They are about responding to the clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons."

But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an influential voice on military matters, pressed the administration to go further, calling for the U.S. and its allies to provide weapons to "the resistance on the ground."

"The important part of this whole situation is, is this just going to be just a retaliatory strike that has no lasting impact or something that changes the momentum on the ground in Syria?" McCain told reporters in Mesa, Ariz., after an event on immigration reform.

Three days of airstrikes planned

Senior officials told NBC News that Defense Department planning had advanced to the point that three days of strikes were anticipated, after which strategists could run an assessment and target what was missed in further rounds.

Many Americans asked about the slaughter in Syria are torn as to how the U.S. should get involved. NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports.

U.S. missile strikes would almost certainly be launched from Navy destroyers or submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. in recent days has moved destroyers closer to Syria, which sits on the sea's eastern edge, but that was mostly a symbolic move. U.S. Tomahawk missiles are so precise that they can hit not just buildings but also specific windows, and they could hit Syrian targets from far farther west in the Mediterranean.

Navy officials said four destroyers are lined up ready to strike: the USS Barry, the USS Mahan, the USS Ramage and the USS Gravely.

Tuesday, a fifth guided-missile destroyer, the USS Stout, also entered the Mediterranean, through the Straights of Gibraltar, but officials said it wouldn't take part in any cruise missile attack.

"The four destroyers now in place have more than enough cruise missiles," one official said.

Pressure for a response builds

Underscoring the urgency facing world leaders, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Parliament back from vacation and said it would vote on action Thursday, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. military was "ready to go."

Monday, using forceful language, Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian chemical attacks were a "moral obscenity" and accused the Assad regime not just of having used chemical agents but also of having covered up the evidence.

On Tuesday, the U.N. said its investigating team in Syria would delay its next outing by a day, to Wednesday. The team came under fire from unidentified snipers Monday on its way to check out the site of a suspected chemical attack near Damascus, the capital.

Having fled the violence within Syria, nearly 2 million refugees, a million of them children, are living in refugee camps in Jordan. NBC News' Ann Curry reports.

In Cairo, the Arab League said it held Assad responsible for the suspected attack. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries condemned the use of unconventional weapons.

Support from the Arab League, even if limited, would provide crucial diplomatic cover for a Western strike on Syria. Action through the U.N. is unlikely because Russia, which supports the Assad regime, has a veto in the Security Council.

Some U.S. allies, notably Britain, have signaled that a limited strike could take place without Security Council approval. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it would be a "very grave violation of international law," and China said through its government-run news service that the U.S. must refrain from "hasty armed intervention."

In Syria, the top general in the Free Syria Army, the umbrella group comprising rebel factions, told NBC News' Richard Engel that airstrikes were necessary to stop Assad from launching even broader chemical attacks.

"If there is no action, we are afraid that in the coming days, not coming weeks, Bashar will use chemical weapons and chemical materials against very wide areas and, I'm afraid, to kill maybe 20,000 or 30,000 more people," he said.

Eric Baculinao, Baruch Ben-Chorin, Catherine Chomiak, Carrie Dann, Alastair Jamieson, Stacey Klein, Andrea Mitchell, Ron Simeone and Winstone Wilde of NBC News; Reuters; and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

by on Aug. 27, 2013 at 7:13 PM
Replies (21-30):
SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Do you mean lives of Syrians, or lives of Americans, for example in Chicago?

I agree that we need to work for structural change in families that make violent crime less likely.


Quoting denise3680:



Quoting gludwig2000:

I'm torn on this whole Syria thing, because while we are not the world's police, how do we stand by and watch such atrocities happen to helpless civilians, women and children? We can not afford another war, but can we afford to stand back and allow such to happen?

thing is we are standing by and watching kids being killed each and every day here in the United States and doing nothing about it, why should we worry about them enough to risk other the lives of our troops? 




SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM

And how long does it really take to determine whether chemical weapons were used? Didn't the UK figure this out on Day 1 or 2?

I don't like the president drawing a "red line" and then not taking action when the red line has been crossed.


Quoting tooptimistic:

We should stay out of it.   Doing something now isn't going to help any of the people who have died from the chemical attacks.  If Obama was going to do something, it should have been done before the weapons were used. 



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Remember back in the Gulf War, people said we should blacktop Saddam into Baghdad?  :)

Hyperbole of course.


Quoting -Celestial-:

This middle east war has been a domino effect as far back at the 80's. We will eventually wipe the whole country out and put in a Walmart parking lot.



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:14 PM
1 mom liked this

Sometimes we need to make tough decisions.

Every strategy including inaction is an alternative.


Quoting tooptimistic:



Quoting muslimah:

 

Quoting tooptimistic:

We should stay out of it.   Doing something now isn't going to help any of the people who have died from the chemical attacks.  If Obama was going to do something, it should have been done before the weapons were used. 

 I agree with you but the problem as I understand it is if chemicals weapons were used it is a violation of international law and due to Americas position in the UN and the fact they are a key player I don't think he has a choice but to get involved. I don't know what he could possibly do. I suppose he could sanction them and freeze bank accounts make it almost impossible access any resources but with Russia and possibly China on their side that might not be very effective.


At this point there is no good choice.  We can't destroy the weapons without dispersing the chemicals.  What are we going to do exactly?  There is always a choice, and one of the choices is just to do nothing.  Are we going to overthow Assad?  What are we doing to do with the weapons?  I just don't see any good outcomes.. so why not just be still and do nothing?



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Our most important priority allegedly is Obama playing golf.


Quoting 143myboys9496:

 Isn't that generally what party planners do? Stand in the background, and...lead?

Quoting SallyMJ:

That's called "leading from behind."


Quoting 143myboys9496:

 "Underscoring the urgency facing world leaders, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Parliament back from vacation and said it would vote on action Thursday, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. military was "ready to go."

10 to 1, Barry waits until after Parliament's vote to make a decision.



 



tooptimistic
by Bronze Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:21 PM

I don't think having a red line, is such a great idea.  Its not like Obama means what he says and says what he means anyway.  They see him as week and think they can push him into reacting.  Sometimes the best response is the one they aren't expecting.  If I were him, I would do nothing..


Quoting SallyMJ:

And how long does it really take to determine whether chemical weapons were used? Didn't the UK figure this out on Day 1 or 2?

I don't like the president drawing a "red line" and then not taking action when the red line has been crossed.


Quoting tooptimistic:

We should stay out of it.   Doing something now isn't going to help any of the people who have died from the chemical attacks.  If Obama was going to do something, it should have been done before the weapons were used. 





SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:26 PM

Absolutely. Completely agree.  I don't remember "red lines" before Obama.

Maybe you could help out as Acting Commander in Chief?   :)


Quoting tooptimistic:

I don't think having a red line, is such a great idea.  Its not like Obama means what he says and says what he means anyway.  They see him as week and think they can push him into reacting.  Sometimes the best response is the one they aren't expecting.  If I were him, I would do nothing..


Quoting SallyMJ:

And how long does it really take to determine whether chemical weapons were used? Didn't the UK figure this out on Day 1 or 2?

I don't like the president drawing a "red line" and then not taking action when the red line has been crossed.


Quoting tooptimistic:

We should stay out of it.   Doing something now isn't going to help any of the people who have died from the chemical attacks.  If Obama was going to do something, it should have been done before the weapons were used. 







tooptimistic
by Bronze Member on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:30 PM
1 mom liked this


No way!!  I like just being a mom. :)

You have to crazy or stupid to want to be President.


In all seriousness, I don't know why people around aren't telling him not to react, and to wait just a bit to see what happens.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Absolutely. Completely agree.  I don't remember "red lines" before Obama.

Maybe you could help out as Acting Commander in Chief?   :)


Quoting tooptimistic:

I don't think having a red line, is such a great idea.  Its not like Obama means what he says and says what he means anyway.  They see him as week and think they can push him into reacting.  Sometimes the best response is the one they aren't expecting.  If I were him, I would do nothing..


Quoting SallyMJ:

And how long does it really take to determine whether chemical weapons were used? Didn't the UK figure this out on Day 1 or 2?

I don't like the president drawing a "red line" and then not taking action when the red line has been crossed.


Quoting tooptimistic:

We should stay out of it.   Doing something now isn't going to help any of the people who have died from the chemical attacks.  If Obama was going to do something, it should have been done before the weapons were used. 









IandLoveandYou
by Penny Lane on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Oh that is really not the same thing.



Quoting denise3680:




Quoting gludwig2000:

I'm torn on this whole Syria thing, because while we are not the world's police, how do we stand by and watch such atrocities happen to helpless civilians, women and children? We can not afford another war, but can we afford to stand back and allow such to happen?

thing is we are standing by and watching kids being killed each and every day here in the United States and doing nothing about it, why should we worry about them enough to risk other the lives of our troops? 



IandLoveandYou
by Penny Lane on Aug. 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM
"Can we afford to interfere? Should we really get involved" are things that I find myself asking when there's talking about this kind of thing.

But with what is happening over there... I personally feel like we can't NOT do anything. It would be a crime against humanity, all that mushy stuff. Mushy.... But right.
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