No decision yet on Syria military strike: Obama

Washington: President Barack Obama has said he had not yet decided whether to attack Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, but a strike appeared likely as the US stopped seeking a UN mandate.
 
"We have not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place. Hardly anybody disputes that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in Syria against civilian populations," Obama told the PBS News Hour in an interview yesterday.
 
"I think it's important that if, in fact, we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime, which is involved in a civil war, trying to protect itself, will have received a pretty strong signal, that in fact, it better not do it again," he said.
 
Syrian opposition and the West have accused President Bashar Al-Assad's government of using chemical weapons last week in a Damascus suburb, a charge denied by the government.
 
"We have looked at all the evidence and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks," Obama asserted in response to a question.
 
"We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that's so, then there need to be international consequences," the US president said.
 
Meanwhile, holding President Assad responsible for the alleged use of chemical weapons by his regime, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said there is "no point" in going forward in the UN Security Council.
 
"We see no avenue forward given continued Russian opposition to any meaningful council action on Syria.
 
Therefore, the United States will continue its consultations and will take appropriate actions to respond in the days ahead," Harf told reporters.
 
"We have no reason to believe that efforts at the Security Council would be any different than these previous efforts that have failed," she argued, throwing up a strong indication that that the US and its allies are gearing up to bypass the UN Security Council in this regard.
 
Commenting on the developments, Russia said that calls for a military strike against Syria are an "undisguised challenge" to the UN charter.