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Syria attack 'will deter dictators'
Barack Obama has said the US must be prepared to strike Syria to deter "other dictators" from using chemical weapons.
America's president said the US would strive to pursue a diplomatic solution in Syria and would continue talks with Vladimir Putin - the president of Syria's ally, Russia - in an effort to ensure the Middle Eastern country destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile following the brutal attack of August 21 which killed more than 1,000 people.
Mr Obama said he was sure Assad's regime was responsible for the attack and it was in the "national interested of the US" to respond with a targeted military strike. But he said it would not be a "pinprick strike" and he would not sanction a "boots on the ground" campaign. Any action would have to be approved by the US Congress, he said.
Speaking in a televised address from the White House, Mr Obama admitted the prospect of a prolonged military campaign was unpopular with many and said: "I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo.
"This will be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective - deter the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad's capabilities. A targeted strike can make Assad - or any other dictator - think twice about using chemical weapons."
President Obama said he had long resisted calls for military action in Syria because he did not believe force could solve the civil war. But he said he changed his mind after the chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21.
Describing the images of death Syrians as "sickening", Mr Obama said: "On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits - a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war. On August 21, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity."
Mr Obama said he was continuing discussions with Mr Putin, while dispatching secretary of state John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart. He said the US would continue its "diplomatic path" to remove weapons without the use of force, with congress postponing a vote on authorising military action.
Mr Obama said he was also speaking to David Cameron and French leader Francois Hollande and would work with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the United Nations Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons.
The president said the United States could not be the "world's policeman", but added that the nation could save Syrian children from being gassed to death. He said: "Sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough... Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria. It is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act."