US military strikes on Syria Thursday: officialsNew Age Online
The U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
The State Department fed the growing drumbeat around the world for a military response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels August 21 near Damascus, saying that while the U.S. intelligence community would release a formal assessment within the week, it was already ‘crystal clear’ that Assad's government was responsible.
Vice President Joe Biden went even further, bluntly telling an American Legion audience in Houston: ‘Chemical weapons have been used.’
Vice President Joe Biden addresses the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the president's response in a speech to the American Legion.
‘No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and there's no doubt who's responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime,’ Biden said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated Tuesday that the White House isn't considering the deliberate overthrow of Assad.
‘The options that we are considering are not about regime change,’ said during a daily briefing with reporters. ‘They are about responding to the clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.’
But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an influential voice on military matters, pressed the administration to go further, calling for the U.S. and its allies to provide weapons to ‘the resistance on the ground.’
‘The important part of this whole situation is, is this just going to be just a retaliatory strike that has no lasting impact or something that changes the momentum on the ground in Syria?’ McCain told reporters in Mesa, Ariz., after an event on immigration reform.
Three days of airstrikes planned
Senior officials told NBC News that Defense Department planning had advanced to the point that three days of strikes were anticipated, after which strategists could run an assessment and target what was missed in further rounds.
Pressure for a response builds
Underscoring the urgency facing world leaders, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Parliament back from vacation and said it would vote on action Thursday, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. military was ‘ready to go.’
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