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As Obama expresses caution, aides consider air strikes in Syria

August 23, 2013|By Christi Parsons and Michael A. Memoli
  • Demonstrators call on President Obama to help the uprising in Syria in a protest in front of the White House on Wednesday.
Demonstrators call on President Obama to help the uprising in Syria in a… (Paul J. Richards / AFP/ Getty…)

WASHINGTON – As President Obama defended his cautious approach in Syria in a televised interview that aired Friday, his national security advisors were talking more specifically about potential U.S. action in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

With pressure mounting on the White House to do something to end the violence in Syria, some of the president’s advisors are pushing for more aggressive action including possible air strikes, according to one senior administration official.

The official said all options are on the table except two: sending in U.S. troops and enforcing a no-fly zone.

“Those are not being discussed at this time,” the official said, requesting anonymity to talk about internal White House deliberations.

In an interview with CNN that was videotaped Thursday, Obama said the United States needs a United Nations mandate, as well as clear evidence about the attack before proceeding.

If the U.S. goes in and “attacks another country” without that evidence, and without a U.N. mandate, Obama said, “then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it.”

“Do we have the coalition to make it work?” Obama continued. “Those are considerations that we have to take into account.”

The Syrian opposition says hundreds of people were killed Wednesday in poison gas bombardments of several districts to the east and south of the capital, Damascus.

Syrian officials deny any such attacks, calling the allegations a fabrication meant to discredit the government and scuttle an ongoing U.N. investigation into previous accusations of chemical weapons use in the war.

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Twitter: @cparsons

christi.parsons@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeMemoli

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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