WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack 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.
Obama on Tuesday used a televised address to the nation to explain his thinking on the ongoing fighting in Syria. 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.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
It's a speech that was initially planned to try to build support for a military strike against Syria. But as President Barack Obama prepares to address the American people later this evening, he's blending the threat of a military strike with the hope of a diplomatic solution that would get rid of Syria's chemical weapons. And for now, the administration's efforts to get Congress on board for a strike against the Bashar Assad regime have taken on a far less urgent tone. Syria's foreign minister said today his government is ready to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile, in line with a proposal from Russia. And he says Syria is prepared to sign an international chemical weapons convention that it has rejected in the past. With Syria reacting positively to the Russian proposal, Secretary of State John Kerry has scheduled a trip to Geneva on Thursday to meet with Russia's foreign minister.