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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama: US has an ‘obligation’ to act against Syria

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White House,Barack Obama,State,John Kerry,Syria,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Middle East,Chemical Weapons

President Obama said Friday that the U.S. has an obligation as a world leader to hold the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad accountable for the deadly chemical attack in Syria last week.

“I have said before and I meant what I said, the world has an obligation” to take action against the use of chemical weapons, Obama said.

Obama, however, repeatedly stressed that he had yet to make a decision about what type of military response the U.S. would take, although he said any strike would be a “limited, narrow act” and would not involve “boots on the ground.”

“We’re not considering any open-ended commitment,” he told reporters after a meeting with leaders of Estonia and Latvia, noting that he wished that the international community had already acted.

“We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress,” Obama added, noting that his national security team planned to give a classified briefing to key Capitol Hill staffers Friday and would later provide the same information to members of Congress and U.S. allies.

Like Secretary of State John Kerry earlier in the day, he acknowledged that he and the American people are “war weary” but the world cannot remain “paralyzed” when a country has so clearly violated an international norm.

“A lot of people think something should be done, but nobody wants to do it,” he said in an apparent reference to British Parliament's rejection Thursday of a measure to authorize force in Syria.

“It’s important for us to recognize that when over a thousand people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal …,” he said. “That is a danger to our national security.”

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