President Obama gives statement to country on Syria

The White House announced Saturday that President Obama will speak to the nation at 1:15 ET Saturday afternoon.

A senior administration official said the president’s remarks were not about imminent military operations in Syria, but rather an update about his decisions on how to proceed.

The Obama administration was to continue its sales pitch to Congress to get behind a potential military strike against Syria on Saturday, hours after U.N. weapons inspectors left the country amid high anticipation of an imminent U.S. attack.

The president’s national security will brief the entire Senate Republican conference today via telephone at 1pm ET on Syria at the request of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Also on Saturday, the office of House Speaker John Boehner announced that the White House plans to provide a classified briefing at 2 p.m. Sunday to members who wished to attend.


UPDATE: President Obama to seek authorization from Congress before ordering military action against Syria.  More at USA Today.

President Obama on Syria: “I have not made a final decision”

President Obama stated today that he has yet to decide what course to take, and said: “We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress.”

Obama’s comments come after Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a forceful case for why action is warranted. Obama said the response he is considering would not constitute a “major operation.”

From USA Today:

President Obama said Friday he is considering a “limited, narrow act” as a military response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.

Calling it “a challenge to the world,” Obama said the use of chemical weapons threatens U.S. national security and merits a response.

Obama emphasized that he still has not made any decisions about what actions the U.S. will take.

He said his military advisers have looked at a wide range of options. “I meant what I said: that the world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said, following his administration’s release of document he said proves Syria’s recent attack. “We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on an incredible scale.”

Sec. of State Kerry: Fatigue from war does not absolve us from our responsibility

It would seem that some sort of strike against Syria is imminent. Whether it is with or without Congress’ involvment, we’ll see…

From the New York Post:

The US has evidence that Syrian poison gas killed at least 1,429 people – including 426 children, Secretary of State John Kerry said today in an impassioned plea for action against the Assad regime.

Previous estimates, even from anti-Assad rebel groups, ranged from a few hundred to 1,300 fatal victims of the August 21 assault.

Kerry said Assad’s forces were at the site of the attack for three days beforehand, making preparations – even telling supporters to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks.

He said the US had evidence that the rockets came from regime-controlled areas.

Kerry also says a senior regime official confirmed that the weapons were used and was afraid it would be discovered.

Kerry also revealed that after the US learned of last week’s attack, “I personally called the foreign minister of Syria, and I said to him, ‘If, as you say, your nation has nothing to hide then let the United Nations in immediately and give the inspectors the unfettered access, so they have the opportunity to tell your story.’”

“Instead, for four days, they shelled the neighborhood in order to destroy evidence, bombarding block after black at a rate four times higher than they had over the previous 10 days,” Kerry added.

“And, when the UN inspectors finally gained access, that access — as we now know — was restricted and controlled.”

The report cites human and satellite intelligence that it says backs up publicly available videos and other evidence of the ghastly massacre.

UK: MPs vote against military action in Syria

By a vote of 285 to 272, British MPs have voted against possible military action against Syria to deter the use of chemical weapons.

David Cameron said it was clear the British Parliament does not want action and “I will act accordingly”.

The Obama administration is said to be weighing military options against Syria in response to reports Syria used chemical weapons against civilians.