US President Barack Obama has not made a decision on how the United States will respond to what it believes was an attack on civilians by the Syrian government, White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated Tuesday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also said no decisions had been taken but the UK and its allies must decide whether limited military action was needed to "deter and degrade the future use of chemical weapons."
- Syrian official: Tel Aviv will be hit if we're attacked
- PM warns of 'strong Israeli response' if Syria strikes
- Analysis: Western coalition to attack Syria
He said the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is "morally indefensible," adding that the world could "not stand idly by" in the face of the "massive use" of banned weapons.
But any military action would have to be proportionate and legal, Cameron was quoted by BBC as saying.
The White House ruled out any military effort to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad from power Obama ponders options in response to last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria.
"The options that we are considering are not about regime change," Carney said. "They are about responding to a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons."
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Obama is considering cruise missile strikes against Syrian targets in response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack that US officials are increasingly confident was launched by the Syrian government.
Carney said the United States expects to release in coming days a public version of a formal report by the US intelligence community on the use of chemical weapons. The report is expected to conclude the Syrian government was responsible for the attack.
Any attempt at "regime change" by the United States would draw the United States deeply into a conflict that Obama has been determined to avoid. The president has already ruled out putting US troops on the ground in Syria.
The United States wants Assad to leave power, but as part of a negotiated political settlement with the Syrian rebels.
Carney said the United States has a variety of options from which to use, not just military options. Most of the talk about Syria in recent days, however, has been about a limited cruise missile attack.
"When the president has an announcement to make, he'll make it," Carney said.
French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday that his country is prepared to take action against those responsible for gassing people in Syria.
"France is ready to punish those who took the heinous decision to gas innocents" in Syria last week, Hollande said at a conference with France's ambassadors. He did not elaborate.
"I have decided to increase our military support to the National Syrian Coalition," the main Syrian opposition group in exile, he also said.
France, one of Europe's biggest military powers, has not specified what preparation it is taking for any possible international action against Assad's regime.
But on Monday Hollande said time is running out for the Syrian regime and airstrikes are a possibility. "Everything will come into play this week," he told Le Parisien newspaper. "There are several options on the table, ranging from strengthening international sanctions to airstrikes to arming the rebels.
Reuters, AP contributed to the report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop