Syria crisis: Obama hints at wider action against Assad

US attack may seek to 'degrade' Syria's military, but Assad says intervention risks a regional war

LAST UPDATED AT 10:20 ON Tue 3 Sep 2013

THERE are indications that President Obama is planning much wider military action against Syria’s Assad regime than previously thought.

Rather than a "shot across the bow" designed to dissuade the regime from further chemical weapons attacks, the military strike would seek to substantially "degrade" the Syrian government’s military capability.

Such an attack would target military aircraft, artillery and the rockets the White House believes were used to launch a sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August. The attack could be supported by an increase in US help for the Syrian rebels.

The notion that Obama is planning a more broad-reaching intervention emerged overnight after Republican senator John McCain attended a meeting at the White House. McCain told the New York Times he was "encouraged" that the Obama administration was planning a military intervention that would substantially "degrade" Assad’s military capability while also lending more support to the Syria rebels. No specific details of that support were discussed, McCain said.

The paper points out that McCain has previously said he would support US intervention in a Congress vote if "the president did more to arm the Syrian rebels and the attack was punishing enough to weaken the Syrian military."

McCain says he was also informed by the White House that a covert effort by the US to arm and train Syrian rebels was beginning to yield results. The first "50-man cell of fighters, who have been trained by the CIA" had begun operations in Syria, he said.

Republican senator Lindsay Graham, who also attended the meeting at the White House, said: "It is all in the details, but I left the meeting feeling better… that the purpose of the attack is going to be a little more robust than I thought."

Here is a round-up of other key developments:

French intelligence dossier says Assad launched chemical attack: France has released a nine-page intelligence dossier that says President Assad carried out a "massive and co-ordinated" chemical attack that is believed to have killed hundreds of people on 21 August, The Guardian reports. The document is based on a detailed technical analysis of evidence from the site of the atrocity supplemented by "additional elements gathered in co-operation with our principal partners".

The French dossier states: "Syria has one of the most important operational stocks of chemical weapons as part of an old and diversified programme that has been the subject of surveillance by the French [intelligence] services, and those of our principle partners, for a long time. This programme is one of the primary threats in terms of the proliferation of arms of massive destruction …"

The dossier concludes that "on 21 August 2013 the Syrian regime launched an attack on certain areas of the Damascus suburbs held by opposition units, using a combination of conventional weapons and the massive use of chemical weapons."

Assad warns of "regional war" if US attacks Syria: In an interview with Le Figaro, Assad warned the US and France they risked setting off a "powder keg" if they attack his regime. He also repeated his denial that his forces had used chemical weapons, saying such an attack would be "illogical".

"Those who make accusations must show evidence," Assad told the paper. "We challenge the United States and France to do this. Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing this, including for their own people."

Assad said an attack on Syria would unleash "chaos and extremism" and possibly lead to a regional war.

Putin under growing pressure: Russia’s President Putin will be confronted with an array of evidence about the use of chemical weapons in Syria when he attends the G20 summit in St Petersburg this week. He will also be urged to show a "new diplomatic flexibility", says The Guardian and "come closer" to accepting that President Assad has to stand aside.

Russia has been the Syrian government’s staunchest ally, but evidence collected by Western intelligence agencies will turn up the pressure on its president to adopt a more flexible approach to the crisis, the paper says.

More than two million refugees have fled Syria: More Syrians are now displaced than any other nationality, the UNHCR has said. At least 700,000 have fled to Lebanon and the threat of US strikes means the exodus will continue. "Syria is haemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs," the UNHSCR said in a statement. Around half of those forced to leave are children, with about three-quarters of them under 11. · 

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The French are universally acknowledged as the masters of diplomatic lying. Yet again they lie. Wonder what Obama promised Hollande in return?

who says that the West has a monopoly on "intelligence"?

America needs to avail itself of Iran's offer before they live to regret not doing so., we are STILL waiting for the UN weapons inspectors' report and YET we (or, at least the US and France) are drawing up advanced, detailed and far-reaching plans for widespread intervention in Syria that amount to regime-change.

Assad's warnings of a wider regional conflict should not be taken lightly. His regime, Hezbollah and Iran have huge capacity to cause serious trouble in the Middle East, the likes of which we have not have seen since World War 2 - the Arab/Israeli wars will have been insignificant by comparison.

Cameron, Hague and Mrs Cameron - PLEASE take note. The compelling "moral argument" to "do something" to relieve the plight of the Syrian refugees is very seductive BUT the alternatives will, undoubtedly, ignite the entire Middle East - from Turkey in the North, to Kurdistan, to Iraq, to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and beyond in the South - then across the Arabian Gulf into Iran and, of course, Russia.

...and that is to ignore Pakistan's capacity to cause mischief. This "Regional" conflict will, very quickly, become a world-wide Sunni v Shia Moslem war, with Russia and the West dragged in for good measure.

My advice in all of this - stock up with petrol/diesel and don't drive a 4x4!

So basically Obama and the US are going to assist in the setting up of a fundamentalist Islamic state where all but Sunni Moslems are going to fear for their lives and who will start a religious war with Iran and Iraq throwing the entire middle east into religious conflict. Bloody idiots.

Assad's denial that his forces had used chemical weapons, saying such an attack would be "illogical".

Just as "illogical" as Assad's evil thrust on turning his full war machine upon ordinary Syrian people at the beginning of a peaceful protest. He miscalculated the rebels would definitely get the blame for "his poison gas attack to claim the moral high ground. He's most certainly finished.

We Tamils appreciate your concern on Syrian people but why you did not taken any initiatives to stop the chemical war against Tamils during the last days of War. Tamils believe that chemical weapons been used against Tamils with your help and IC Even UN Officers did left the Island before chemical weapons been used it shows big powers behind the destruction- still as you are doing in Syria you could do investigation in Sri LANKA on 40,000 killed 1,40000 people missing we demand International Independent investigation on innocent Tamils been killed including chemical war on Tamils 4 years back

France isn't a democracy! people cannot vote whether to attack Syria or not except for Hollande, who wants to but have no means. US has means, but now they changed their song and say they going for regime change in Syria. Who gives them right to punish anyone in the world? or to be a policeman of the world? they should punish themselves for selling chemical weapons to other countries and for the wars they've started in the world and made it less safer for all of us! Haven't they learned any lessons for their own sordid history! they seem to have very short memory. The world without US and Israel would be a better one!

The West does have a monopoly on the oxymoron: Western Intelligence

Syria’s central role in the Arab gas pipeline is … a key to why it is now being targeted.

Just as the Taliban was scheduled for removal after they demanded too much in return for the Unocal pipeline, Syria’s Assad is being targeted because he is not a reliable “player”.

Specifically, Turkey, Israel and their ally the U.S. want an assured flow of gas through Syria, and don’t want a Syrian regime which is not unquestionably loyal to those 3 countries to stand in the way of the pipeline … or which demands too big a cut of the profits.

A deal has also been inked to run a natural gas pipeline from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria (with a possible extension to Lebanon).

And a deal to run petroleum from Iraq’s Kirkuk oil field to the Syrian port of Banias has also been approved:

Turkey and Israel would be cut out of these competing pipelines.

No wonder Turkey and Israel are both launching military strikes against Syria.

On the other hand, Russia’s giant natural gas industry would be threatened if Syria’s current regime is toppled … no wonder Israel and Russia are getting into it over Syria.

And the monarchies in Qatar and Saudi Arabia would also benefit as competitors in the gas market if Syria’s regime is taken out … so they’re backing the “rebels” as well.

And the U.S. is heavily backing backed Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria. (even the New York Times reportsthat virtually all of the rebel fighters are Al Qaeda terrorists.)

Indeed, the U.S. has been arming the Syrian opposition since 2006.

And the U.S. is now considering imposing a no-fly zone over Syria … which was also the opening move in the wars against Iraq and Libya.

Bush launched the Iraq war under false pretenses … similarly, the war in Syria is really being launched by Obama and natural gas players in the region who want to cut Syria and Russia out of the game.

Postscript: If the corporate media were reporting more accurately on Syria than they did on Iraq, the American people would realize that there is grave doubt about who is most responsible for the violence, and who really used chemical weapons in Syria.

Not that Assad is a saint, but he poses no danger to the United States, and shouldn’t be demonized and turned into a threat to American national security man any more than Saddam Hussein.

The Iraq war will end up with a final price tag of between $5-6 trillion dollars. We simply can’t afford to get involved in another war … especially with Russia and Iran actively aligned against us.

...if the Saudis are challenged about supplying "unknowing" elements of the rebels with chemical weapons, what will Cameron, Obama, Kerry, Hague, Hollande AND Mrs Cameron say then?

This seems to be an emerging and very plausible theory, contributed to by a rather frightened female member of one of the disparate factions of the "opposition" in Syria.

For God's Sake - keep an open mind! - unless,of course, it IS all about oil and keeping those women-hating Saudis sweet.

Les Barrie-I am a American citizen. About 90% of United States citizens are not for the USA waging war in Syria. Barack Obama is a communist who hates his own white heritage as Hitler hated his Jewish heritage. When Barack ran for President against Hilliary Clinton, he said his "grandmother showed typical white behavior." Idiots voted for this man for President as he insulted the very heritage of many who voted for him, the caucasian race. I have a friend who came to the USA in the 1980's,escaping communist Vietnam with about 200 other people. She says she wants out of the USA now. because Obama represents the very communist government she escaped. She says she is shocked at the ignorance of most of the American people in not seeing Obama is a communist. I for one would not be surprised if Obamas aim in invading Syria is to destroy his own country and see caucasian members of his own troops captured and killed. This is the type of atrocity Adolph Hitler carried out.Obama has fooled many people into thinking he is the savior of the USA and the world.As Beatle Paul Mccartney accepted a medal of artistic honor from Obama, Paul insulted George Bush and praised Obama. What a moron.People in European countries stupidly praised Obama when first elected, thinking he was a savior. Obama is no better than Adolph Hitler, and that will be seen in the time to come. I am not for the Syrian war. I do believe the United Nations should punish the Syrian government if they gassed or killed their own people. But I do not believe war is the answer.Obama is using USA politicians such as John Mccain as a scapegoat to join him in war endeavors. This way others will be blamed for the war instead of Obama solely. If Syria is invaded Syrian civilians who are poor will not be able to get out of harm's way. They will be in the midst of this tragedy, as will American soldiers who have been at war too much.

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