Senior administration official:  “This one is a lot easier to figure out”
August 26th, 2013
10:09 PM ET

Senior administration official: “This one is a lot easier to figure out”

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.” FULL POST

As it weighs options and partners, U.S. mulls legal options
August 26th, 2013
09:49 PM ET

As it weighs options and partners, U.S. mulls legal options

By Elise Labott, CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter

Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks on Syria Monday left little doubt the United States would deliver a punishing response to Syria's use of chemical weapons, calling the facts "undeniable" and warning the regime of President Bashar al-Assad must be held accountable.

Laying out a moral case for eventual military intervention, Kerry called Assad's attacks against civilians "a moral obscenity" that "should shock the conscience of the world." What is happening on the ground in Syria, Kerry said, "is real and it is compelling" and demanded a response from the international community. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Indonesia Monday, said "if there is any action taken, it will be in concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification."

The United States is examining a variety of potential legal justifications for any type of military action. While three United Nations Security Council resolutions have failed to pass because of Russian veto power, officials say some in the administration believe it may be worth it to make the effort. But with Moscow already promising to declare any military intervention illegal, the United States and its allies would likely have to act without a U.N. mandate. FULL POST

August 26th, 2013
02:59 PM ET

Missile strikes on Syria likely response to chemical attack

By Chris Lawrence, Elise Labott and Tom Cohen

Few question that there was a major chemical attack in Syria last week, and the United States has made clear that it blames the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Now, the question is how President Barack Obama will respond.

For almost two years, Obama has avoided direct military involvement in Syria's civil war, only escalating aid to rebel fighters in June after suspected smaller-scale chemical weapons attacks by Syrian government forces.

However, last week's attack on a Damascus suburb that reportedly killed and wounded more than 3,000 people obliterated the "red line" Obama set just over a year ago against the use of Syria's chemical weapons stocks.