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Aug 27, 2013

U.S. points finger at Assad over Syria gas attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry laid the groundwork on Monday for possible military action against the Syrian government over a chemical weapons attack, implicating President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in a “moral obscenity.”

In the most forceful U.S. reaction yet to last week’s gas attack outside Damascus, Kerry said President Barack Obama “believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Aug 26, 2013

U.S. seeks accountability for Syria gas attack, edges closer to military response

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry laid the groundwork on Monday for possible military action against the Syrian government over a suspected chemical weapons attack, implicating President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in a “moral obscenity.”

In the most forceful U.S. reaction yet to last week’s suspected gas attack outside Damascus, Kerry said President Barack Obama “believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Aug 24, 2013

U.S. repositions naval forces, no decision on Syria strike

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday was repositioning naval forces in the Mediterranean to give President Barack Obama the option for an armed strike on Syria, although officials cautioned that Obama had made no decision on military action.

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. Navy would expand its presence in the Mediterranean to four destroyers from three.

Aug 24, 2013

Initial Western intelligence finds Syrian forces used chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons were used by Syrian forces in an attack near Damascus this week, likely with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to American and European security sources.

The early intelligence finding could increase pressure for action by President Barack Obama, who made clear that he planned to tread cautiously even as his aides sought to narrow their differences in debate over possible military responses to the Syrian government.

Aug 23, 2013

Obama stresses cautious response on Syria as aides weigh options

/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Friday that the United States must tread cautiously in response to an apparent poison gas attack in Syria even as his aides debated over the options for possible military action against the Syrian government.

In his first public comments since Wednesday’s attack in the Damascus suburbs, Obama called the incident “very troublesome” and a “big event of grave concern” but made clear he was in no rush to get war-weary Americans entangled in another Middle East conflict.

Aug 22, 2013

Obama faces growing calls to act over Syria gas attack claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday faced growing calls at home and abroad for forceful action against the Syrian government over accusations that it carried out a massive deadly chemical weapons attack.

While the White House said it was “appalled” by reports of hundreds of people gassed near Damascus on Wednesday, it made clear that any U.S. response must await confirmation of the attack and again demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad give U.N. inspectors immediate access to the sites of the alleged attacks.

Aug 21, 2013

White House calls for U.N. probe of alleged Syria gas attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Wednesday called on the United Nations to urgently investigate allegations of massive deadly chemical weapons use by Syrian government forces, an attack which if confirmed could increase pressure on President Barack Obama to intervene in Syria’s civil war.

Syria’s opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad’s loyalists of gassing hundreds of people near Damascus on Wednesday with rockets that released lethal fumes over rebel-held suburbs, killing men, women and children as they slept.

Aug 2, 2013

U.S. sees hope in Iranian president-elect, but still cautious

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is signaling its hopes for an easing of nuclear tensions after Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani takes office, but holding off on substantive moves until the moderate cleric shows a willingness to negotiate seriously.

Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator and veteran of Iran’s 1979 revolution who will be inaugurated on Sunday, has pledged domestic reforms and more international engagement, in an apparent break from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies.

Aug 2, 2013

After Snowden, no business as usual for U.S. and Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After causing weeks of embarrassment for the U.S. intelligence community, the Edward Snowden saga has now cast a shadow over international efforts to end the Syrian civil war and deal with Iran, and could also undermine White House hopes for a nuclear arms reduction deal.

Russia’s decision on Thursday to grant asylum to Snowden threatens to send already-strained relations between the United States and Russia to the lowest point in years and further complicate efforts to work out geopolitical challenges.

Jul 27, 2013

Insight – Obama and Syria: a trail of half-steps, mixed messages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the Syrian civil war deepened and anti-government rebels struggled to unify their fractious forces, the White House early last year quietly convened an elite group of senior policymakers to advise President Barack Obama.

Their unusual mandate: think outside the box on how to push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

    • About Matt

      "White House correspondent who has covered news on four continents for Reuters, from Latin American coups and drug wars to the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles to the Balkans conflict to the second Palestinian Intifada to the Iraq war. He has covered George W. Bush and is now covering President Barack Obama."
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