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President Obama hints at potential military action in Syria

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 30 2013 4:31 p.m. MDT

Assad has refused to let a U.N. team into the areas near Damascus and Aleppo where chemical weapons are believed to have been used. The White House says the team is standing by and could deploy to Syria within 48 hours if Assad allows it in. Given the unlikelihood of Assad giving the inspectors access, the U.S. says it is also seeking answers on its own and through international partners.

Polling suggests war-weary Americans are reluctant to see the U.S. get involved in another conflict in the Middle East. A CBS News/New York Times poll out Tuesday shows 62 percent of Americans say the country does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria, while 24 percent say the government does have that responsibility.

While Obama insists all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with Syria, the White House has little appetite for putting American soldiers into combat there. Even Arizona's Republican Sen. John McCain, who has pressed for aggressive U.S. involvement, has said putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria would be a mistake.

Underscoring the danger that could await, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group said Tuesday that Syrian rebels will not be able to defeat Assad's forces by themselves, suggesting the government's friends, including his Iranian-backed group would intervene on the government side if necessary.

Hezbollah and Iran are close allies of Assad, both accused by rebels of sending fighters to assist Syrian troops.

In Washington, Obama also took questions Tuesday about the immigration debate on Capitol Hill. Obama said that while a bill crafted by eight senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — was not the legislation he would have written, "I do think that it meets the basic criteria that I laid out from the start."

Obama also defended the implementation of the health care overhaul he signed in his first term, though he said there will be "glitches and bumps" as the sweeping law is fully implemented. He cited the unveiling Tuesday of simplified forms for people applying for insurance as an example of the administration trying to make the rollout of the law's final stages smoother.

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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