Obama has a plan of action for Syria

2013-04-30 19:03
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Washington - US President Barack Obama strongly suggested on Tuesday he would consider military action against Syria, if it can be confirmed that President Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons in the two-year-old civil war.

At a White House news conference, the president also defended the FBI in regard to its efforts before the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon two weeks ago.

Asked about Syria, the president said that while there is evidence that chemical weapons were used inside the country, "we don't know when they were used, how they were used. We don't know who used them. We don't have a chain of custody that establishes" exactly what happened.

If it can be established that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, he added, "We would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us."

"Obviously there are options to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed," he said, noting that he had asked Pentagon planners last year for additional possibilities.

Gun control

On another topic, Obama responded with slight ridicule and humour when he was asked if he still had the political juice to push his agenda through Congress after an early second-term defeat on gun control legislation.

"Golly, I might just as well pack up and go home," he parried his questioner.

Paraphrasing American humorist Mark Twain, he said, "Rumours of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point."

And he expressed confidence that Congress would approve sweeping immigration legislation that he is seeking.

He also renewed his call for lawmakers to replace across-the-board federal spending cuts.

The administration favours a comprehensive plan to reduce deficits through targeted spending cuts and higher taxes.

Boston bombings

Asked about the FBI's investigation into a possible terrorist threat posed in the past by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings who died in an escape attempt, the president said, "Based on what I've seen so far, the FBI performed its duties, the department of homeland security did what it was supposed to be doing."

"But this is hard stuff," he said of the work needed to ferret out security threats at home.

He also said that "Russians have been very co-operative with us since the Boston bombing”.

The bombing suspects are Russian natives who immigrated to the Boston area.

Russian authorities told US officials before the bombings they had concerns about the family, but Moscow has revealed details of wiretapped conversations only since the attack.

Guantanamo

Asked about a topic that links terrorism and his Obama's legislative efforts, he said he would "re-engage with Congress" on the future of the prison for detainees at Guantanamo in Cuba.

As a candidate for the White House in 2007 and 2008, Obama called for closing the base, which was set up as part of President George W Bush's response to the terror attacks on 11 September 2001. Lawmakers objected and the facility remains open.

Asked about a hunger strike by some detainees, he said, "I don't want these individuals to die," and he said the Pentagon was doing what it could to manage the situation.

Read more on:    fbi  |  bashar assad  |  tamerlan tsarnaev  |  barack obama  |  syria  |  cuba  |  us  |  syria conflict  |  boston explosions  |  gun control

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