(WASHINGTON) — President Obama Friday said he has “not made any decisions” on whether to launch a military strike on Syria, but sought to assure the American public and the international community that if he does, it will be a “limited, narrow act.”
“We’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach,” Obama said, adding, “We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress.”
“This kind of offense is a challenge to the world,” the president said at the White House alongside Vice President Joe Biden and leaders from Baltic nations on the same day that the Obama administration provided fresh evidence that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.
The president said he has instructed the military to look into a “wide range of options.”
Before Obama spoke Friday, the White House released an unclassified report asserting that the Obama administration had “high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.”
Accompanying the report was a map of areas of Syria reportedly affected by that attack.
“A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information,” according to the report.
The government memo noted, “Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation.”
Secretary of State John Kerry also suggested Friday that people “read for yourselves” the government’s evidence against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Instead of being tucked safely in their beds,” there were “rows and rows” of dead children, Kerry said at the State Department.
He added that it was important to hold the Assad regime accountable as a warning to other countries and groups.
Lawmakers have placed increasing pressure on Obama to obtain congressional authorization before taking military action and some key international allies like the United Kingdom have signaled their unwillingness to participate in any strike.
But the president looks increasingly likely to go it alone.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Jethro Mullen and Matt Egan, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN