President Obama: Syria Changed When Assad Gassed Citizens - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

President Obama: Syria Changed When Assad Gassed Citizens

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President Obama addressed the nation Tuesday night about the ongoing crisis in Syria.

In a prepared speech, Obama said he asked Congress to postpone votes on Syria action to pursue diplomatic solution. "I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions."

Obama says he long resisted calls for military action in Syria because he didn't think force could solve the Syrian civil war. But he says he changed his mind after Syria's government gassed its own citizens.
 
He said the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 shifted his thinking and that the United States must respond with a military strike to deter future use of such weapons.
 
Obama said no one disputes that chemical weapons were used and said thousands of Syrians have died from them. He said the images and videos of men, women and children are sickening and demand a response.

He says the U.S. knows that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime was responsible. He says Assad's forces prepared the attack in the days beforehand. He says they distributed gas masks to their personnel, then fired rockets into neighborhoods the regime was trying to rid of opposition forces.

A Russian plan under which Syria would turn over its chemical weapons in order to avoid Western missile strikes is hitting some snags.
 
The plan bogged down today when Moscow rejected U.S. and French demands for a binding U.N. resolution that would include "very severe consequences" for non-compliance.
 
The proposal would put the chemical weapons of the Bashar Assad regime under international control, before they are eventually destroyed. The initiative appeared to offer a way out of a crisis that raised the prospect of U.S.-led military action against Syria, in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack last month.
 
But world powers have been haggling over how the plan would be enforced. France and the U.S. are wary of falling into what the French foreign minister calls a "trap." And they're pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution to verify Syria's disarmament.
 
The prospect of a deal that could be enforced militarily met with swift opposition from Russia.
 
Syria's foreign minister, during a visit to Moscow today, said Syria would place its chemical weapons locations in the hands of representatives of Russia, other unspecified countries and the United Nations.
 

Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding international discussions with Syria.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

The United States Senate is engaged in an important debate – one which should not be taken lightly. This discussion and the bipartisan resolution under consideration are simply too important to be rushed through the Senate or given short shrift.

I believe it is right and proper that President Obama be given the opportunity to meet with Senators from both parties during the weekly caucus meetings. I also believe it is vital that the President speak directly to the American people about the potential for limited military action in Syria, which he will do tonight at 9 o'clock. And it is appropriate to allow international discussions aimed at avoiding this military action to continue.

It is important to understand that the only reason Russia is seeking an alternative to military action is that President Obama has made it clear that the United States will not fear to act. Our credible threat of force has made these diplomatic discussions with Syria possible. The United States should not withdraw that threat.

If there is a realistic chance to secure Syria's chemical weapons and prevent further atrocities by the Assad regime, we should not turn our backs on that chance. But for such a solution to be plausible the Assad regime must quickly prove that their offer is real and not merely a ploy to delay military action indefinitely. Any agreement must also assure Syria's chemical weapons can be viably secured, even in the midst of ongoing fighting. And any agreement must ensure that Syria is unable to transfer its dangerous chemical weapons to the hands of terrorist groups. Such an attempt would be met with a rapid and robust response by the United States.

I am pleased that the administration is considering this offer and determining whether the proposal can satisfy the criteria I have just outlined. The Senate should give these international discussions time to play out, but not unlimited time.

That is why, although there is support to move forward and debate the bipartisan resolution reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I did not rush to file cloture on the motion to proceed to this measure last night. As I said, we don't need to prove how quickly we can do this, but how well we can do this.

However, the Syrian regime should fully understand that the United States is watching closely. And the Assad regime should be warned: the United States will not tolerate this breach of human decency and long-held international consensus against the use of chemical weapons.

Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his opposition to military action in Syria with this statement:

"Any strategic attack has the potential to become an act of war, and should be treated as such. Before I vote to put members of Nevada's families in harm's way, a full justification for war must be provided. After extensive discussions with the White House and those concerned about the constitutionality of military intervention, I do not believe a strategic attack on Syria is in the best interest of the United States at this time," said Senator Heller.

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