A Russian warship sailed Thursday through the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey.
Where world leaders stand on Syria
- September 5, 2013 - 11:43 PM
President Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action. Obama, officials said, is now determined to put more emphasis on the “degrade” part of what the administration has said is the goal of a military strike against Syria — to “deter and degrade” Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. That means expanding beyond the 50 or so major sites that were part of the original target list developed with French forces before Obama delayed action Saturday to seek congressional approval of his plan.
For the first time, the administration is talking about using U.S. and French aircraft to conduct strikes on specific targets, in addition to ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. There is a renewed push to get other NATO forces involved.
Syrian government troops battled Al-Qaida-linked rebels for a second day over the regime-held Christian village of Maaloula in western Syria. Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, said the fighters included members of the Al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group.
Prime Minister David Cameron said British scientists have found new evidence that poison gas was used last month outside the Syrian capital. Cameron told BBC television the evidence being examined “further shows the use of chemical weapons in that Damascus suburb.”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the United States should wait for the U.N. inspectors’ report on their investigation into chemical attack before intervening militarily. He insisted the U.N. Security Council is the only body that can authorize use of force. He also said Russia has been sending warships to the Mediterranean Sea for possible evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, also warned that a U.S. strike on Syria’s atomic facilities might result in a nuclear catastrophe.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power lashed into Russia at the United Nations, accusing Moscow of holding the Security Council “hostage” by blocking action against Syria. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the situation has “no military solution. There is only a political solution which can bring peace.”
Turkey has deployed tanks and anti-aircraft guns to reinforce its military units on the Syrian border. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to respond to any attack from its southern neighbor.
© 2013 Star Tribune