The White House says President Barack Obama may approve using military force against the Syrian government.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration has a number of options with regards to handling reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, and those include using military force among other possibilities.
Fielding a question from the media during the afternoon presser, Carney said he could not speculate on what action if any Pres. Obama would pursue against Assad, but said “as a general principal the United States retains the ability to act unilaterally.”
Just one day earlier, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US intelligence community determined “with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons.” The White House sent a letter to members of the US Senate that morning informing lawmakers that Pres. Assad is believed to have used the odorless liquid sarin on at least two occasions.
“Thus far, we believe that the Assad regime maintains custody of these weapons, and has demonstrated a willingness to escalate its horrific use of violence against the Syrian people,” the letter read in part.
Following up on Friday, Carney said, “We still believe based on the information that we have that the stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria are under control of the Syrian regime.”
“Because of that, Assad is responsible for the disposition of those chemical weapons and it is his responsibility first and foremost not to use them or to transport them to terrorist groups, but to secure them and make sure they aren’t used by anyone else.”
“That’s all I can really say about it. That’s our assessment at this time,” said Carney, adding that the Obama administration is working with allies and partners, including the United Nations and the Syrian opposition, to gather credible facts to corroborate earlier reports.
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