By Jim Acosta and Brianna Keilar
A senior administration official stressed U.S. President Barack Obama is on an “abbreviated timeline” for making a decision on whether to launch a military strike against Syria over its suspected use of chemical weapons.
“We see this with some urgency,” the official said.
After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that chemical weapon use by the Syrian regime was “undeniable,” the senior administration official said the United States no longer requires confirmation from United Nations weapons inspectors.
“This one is a lot easier to figure out,” the official said. “This is really obvious.”
CNN has learned Obama will be presented with options for military action in the next few days. A senior administration official said many of these options have been available for review by the president for more than a year.
That was roughly when the president drew a red line warning Syria against chemical weapon use.
A senior administration official pushed back on the notion the United States would be seeking to punish Syrian President Bashir al-Assad.
“We don’t do things to punish or embarrass. We would be sending a message of accountability.”
The official reiterated that an intelligence assessment of the August 21 attack on the outskirts of Damascus will be presented publicly by U.S. officials shortly.
The senior administration official said the Obama administration has no desire to see the confirmation of chemical weapon use dragged out by Syria or its allies in Russia.
“What the U.N. can find out, we already know. There’s no reason to haggle over access,” the official said.
The official cautioned the administration is drafting its legal options for a potential strike either through partners or unilaterally. But the official added the president has long sought international cooperation for such actions and would likely do so with Syria.
Consultations with allies and members of Congress are also continuing. Asked about the timeline for a decision, the official cautioned “we’re really not there yet.”
The final decision, the official stressed, remains with the president.