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NEW: U.S. threats against Syria are "unacceptable," Russian official says
Source: No final U.N. report on Syria inspection likely for a week
President Obama still deciding on a U.S. response to Syria's "challenge to the world"
U.N. inspectors start leaving Syria with evidence from sites of the Aug. 21 attack
Declaring himself “war-weary” but determined to hold Syria accountable for using banned chemical weapons, President Barack Obama said Friday he was considering a limited response to what U.S. intelligence assessed with “high confidence” as a Syrian attack that killed more than 1,400 people.
Obama told reporters he had yet to make a final decision, but hinted at a military strike that sources and experts say would entail cruise missiles fired from U.S. Navy ships at Syrian command targets – but not at any chemical weapons stockpiles.
“It is not in the national security interests of the United States to ignore clear violations” of what he called an “international norm” banning the use of chemical weapons, Obama said at a meeting with visiting heads of Baltic nations Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
He called the Syrian attack a “challenge to the world” that threatens U.S. allies Israel, Turkey and Jordan while increasing the risk of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
President Bashar al-Assad’s government has claimed that jihadists fighting with the rebels carried out the chemical weapons attacks on August 21 to turn global sentiments against it, a claim dismissed by Obama and others who say there is no evidence to support that claim.
Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry released details of a declassified U.S. intelligence report in an effort to muster support at home and abroad for a military response against al-Assad’s government.
However, NATO allies want the United Nations to authorize any military response, something that both Kerry and Obama said was unlikely because of opposition by permanent Security Council member Russia, a Syrian ally.