Reuters reports: The White House ruled out any military effort to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power on Tuesday as President Barack Obama ponders options in response to last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria.
“The options that we are considering are not about regime change,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “They are about responding to a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.”
Obama is considering cruise missile strikes against Syrian targets in response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials are increasingly confident was launched by the Syrian government.
Carney said the United States expects to release in coming days a public version of a formal report by the U.S. intelligence community on the use of chemical weapons. The report is expected to conclude the Syrian government was responsible for the attack.
Any attempt at “regime change” by the United States would draw the United States deeply into a conflict that Obama has been determined to avoid. The president has already ruled out putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria.
No attempt to bring about regime change — but that’s not quite what sources in the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul claim they have been told:
“The Americans are tying any military action to the chemical weapons issue. But the message is clear; they expect the strike to be strong enough to force Assad to go to Geneva and accept a transitional government with full authority,” a Syrian opposition figure said.
“The message to the opposition was to get a team ready for Geneva, and be prepared for the possibility of a transition. But we must also be ready for the possibility of the collapse of the regime. If the strike ends up to be crippling, and if they hit the symbols of the regime’s military power in Damascus it could collapse,” the source said.