Obama eyes ‘discreet’ attack in Syria

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is considering a small-scale attack on Syria’s government, the White House spokesman said Thursday.

“What we’re talking about here is something very discreet and limited. … We’re not talking about regime change here,” deputy spokesman Josh Earnest said today.

The statement suggested the administration is not considering a large-scale air or ground attack, any effort to replace Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, or a non-military response, such as diplomatic announcements, embargoes or partial sanctions.

A limited airstrike could use air or sea-launched aircraft, likely carrying tens or hundreds of guided missiles.

The president could also order the use of ship-launched missiles, but they’re fewer in number than available air-launched missiles.

Obama plans to hold “robust consultation” with Congress, and Earnest hinted that Obama may deliver an address to the American public.

“The president believes it is important to have a dialogue with the American public,” he said. (RELATED: Cruz: Why is Parliament — by not Congress — debating Syria)

Earnest also told reporters they would see a report describing the evidence that the chemical attack on civilians in Damascus on Aug. 21 was directed by the Syrian government.

Earnest today repeated the administration’s claim that major use of chemicals weapons overseas is an threat to the United States.

“The president believes strongly — that it is imp for the international community to protect international norms against the use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly these weapons used in Syria against innocent civilians,” he said. “Protection of that international norm is a priority of the international community … is within the core national security interests of the United States of America.”

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