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Obama Convenes Saturday Meeting on Syria

Saturday, 24 August 2013 09:15 By Lesley Clark, McClatchy Newspapers | Report
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Syrian refugees flee their country while crossing the northern border near Sahela, Iraq, Aug. 21, 2013. Crossing Syria’s eastern frontier to a makeshift camp on a desert hilltop, tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds have fled to northern Iraq in recent days, one of the largest movements of refugees since the conflict began more than two years ago, according to the United Nations. (Photo: Lynsey Addario / The New York Times) Syrian refugees flee their country while crossing the northern border near Sahela, Iraq, Aug. 21, 2013. Crossing Syria’s eastern frontier to a makeshift camp on a desert hilltop, tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds have fled to northern Iraq in recent days, one of the largest movements of refugees since the conflict began more than two years ago, according to the United Nations. (Photo: Lynsey Addario / The New York Times) President Obama will meet this morning in a rare Saturday session with his national security team "to discuss the reports of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government in Syria earlier this week," a White House official said.

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The official said Obama has directed the intelligence community to "gather facts and evidence" to determine what happened in Syria and that once that happens, "the president will make an informed decision about how to respond."

The U.S. has a "range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we're making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria," the official said.

The meeting comes as a fourth Navy destroyer equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles was moved closer to Syria on Thursday. A U.S. Defense official, however, said any reports of preparations for a possible missile attack were "way overstated," and that three warships already in place in the eastern Mediterranean Sea had more than enough firepower to launch an attack were one to be made.

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Lesley Clark

Lesley Clark works for The Miami Herald and The Bradenton (Florida) Herald. She's worked for The Miami Herald in Washington since February 2011, and before that in Miami and Tallahassee, covering state government and politics. She's a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


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