“The President continues to work with his national security team reviewing the options available,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated at this afternoon’s press briefing in response to questions about the US reaction to the Syrian regime. Briefings from both the White House and the State Department today confirmed that US officials hold the Syrian regime responsible for the use of chemical weapons that killed more than 300 last week; the intelligence community assessment on the attacks will be released to the public later this week.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is using a new Instagram presence, in addition to those on Facebook, Twitter and a YouTube channel to record his side of the story posting pictures such as his recent visit with the Syrian Scientific Olympiad team. The Team brought home three bronze medals and two certificates for distinguished performance. “The chemical weapons allegations are completely politicized and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists,” pulled from Asad’s official Facebook page, this statement was made yesterday to a Russian newspaper. Asad has firmly denied his administration’s involvement in the attacks.
While no specific military strike has been dictated as of this posting, four US Sixth Fleet Navy destroyers, currently located in the Mediterranean, were deployed today to cover the situation in Syria. In a Pentagon statement, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel committed to continued cooperation with the international community to respond to Damascus, specifically referencing French and British defense forces, but Hagel also defended the US right to take military action without the permission of international organizations such as the United Nations. The UN faced its own struggles on the ground yesterday as inspectors were reportedly fired upon by snipers. The inspectors were en route to another chemical attack location close to Damascus.
The Arab League, a regional organization of 22 member states (though Syria’s participation has been suspended since 2011) issued a statement today blaming Asad for the attacks. If military action is enacted, support from the League will add a layer of legitimacy in the Arab world.[Image via Facebook.]