Obama Ponders Syria Military Action

Snipers attack UN chemical weapons inspectors.

Black columns of smoke rise from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood, east of Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Worries about violence and chemical weapon use in Syria have impacted the stock market.

Black columns of smoke rise from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood, east of Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Worries about violence and chemical weapon use in Syria have impacted the stock market.

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President Barack Obama continues to weigh his military options in Syria, following a weekend of discussions with his counterparts in France and the United Kingdom and a Saturday meeting with his national security team.

[READ: Congress Wants to Give Input on Syria]

A United Nations inspection team sent in to evaluate whether or not chemical weapons had been used in a recent attack was attacked by snipers, in the latest events in war-torn Syria, where more than 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed. The U.N. says it will send a new team in as soon as they can replace the vehicle that was attacked.

Obama, who has so far resisted open intervention in the two-year long Syrian conflict, is under increasing pressure to act as reports of chemical weapon use – something he said a year ago constituted a "red line" – gain credibility.

On Saturday, Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron discussed Syria and potential international action following the alleged chemical weapons use.

"The two leaders expressed their grave concern about the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against civilians near Damascus on Wednesday, August 21," a White House statement on the call said. "The president and prime minister will continue to consult closely regarding this incident, as well as possible responses by the international community to the use of chemical weapons."

[PHOTOS: Alleged Gas Attack in Syria ]

The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, has denied using chemical weapons and claims it found evidence of chemical weapons at a rebel group's camp.

The debate over if and by whom the chemical weapons were used carries great significance for potential action, but it's clear Obama is still reluctant to move the U.S. in a direction without support from the international community.

Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande Sunday, according to the White House, and both expressed "grave concern" over the alleged chemical weapon use.

"President Obama and President Hollande discussed possible responses by the international community and agreed to continue to consult closely," said a White House release.

A White House official told The New York Times Sunday the president was growing increasingly concerned over the events.

[ALSO: Obama Struggles With Syria Decision ]

"Based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts and other facts gathered by open sources, the U.S. intelligence community, and international partners, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident," the official said in a written statement to The New York Times.

U.S. warships are located in the region and have the potential to launch an attack, according to reports.

 

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