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U.S. options aim not at regime change in Syria: officials   13-08-28 11:43

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the options considered by President Barack Obama in the wake of a chemical weapons attack in Syria aim not at regime change and that there is no military solution to the protracted conflict there.

Washington and its allies are weighing military strikes on Syria following the alleged use of chemical weapons by the government in its attack on the suburbs of Damascus, capital of Syria, on Aug. 21, in which as many as 1,300 people were reportedly killed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the options being considered by Obama and his national security team are not around the questions of whether or not chemical weapons were used in Syria "on a significant scale," or the Syrian government is responsible.

"It's around the question of what is the appropriate response to this clear violation of international norms," he told reporters at a regular press briefing, reiterating that there is "very little doubt" about the Syrian regime's responsibility for the use of the banned weapons last week.

"I want to make clear that the options that we are considering are not about regime change," he said. "They are about responding to a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons."

"We are also very much engaged in an effort to support the opposition in its struggle with the Assad regime, as the Assad regime continues to try to massacre its own people in an effort to maintain power," Carney added.

The Obama administration has called for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad to make way for a political transition in his country, as conflict between the government and opposition forces has dragged on for more than two years and killed more than 100, 000 people.

"And it is our firm conviction that Syria's future cannot include Assad in power," Carney said. "But this deliberation and the actions that we are contemplating are not about regime change. "

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf also stressed that the administration is not "contemplating any action that would be ... aimed at regime change."

"Nothing like that," she said at a regular press briefing. "It' s a direct response to C.W. use."

The Washington Post said Tuesday that Obama is weighing a limited military strike against Syria that will be limited both in scope and duration.

Such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles or possibly long-range bombers, will focus on military targets not directly related to Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, the newspaper said, quoting senior administration officials.

Carney said a decision about the use of military force has not been made. "The president is reviewing his options," he noted. " And obviously, his options are many and they include a variety of possibilities that are not limited to the use of force."

The Syrian government and the opposition have blamed each other for the alleged chemical attack, while UN investigators have been on the scene collecting evidence.

"We completely agree there was no military solution to the conflict in Syria," Carney said. "There has to be a political transition, and we are engaged in a process with many countries -- as well as with the opposition -- to help bring about that transition."

"I think that what happened on Aug. 21 only underscores the need for a political solution," Harf said, adding "We remain fully invested in a comprehensive and durable political solution to the crisis in Syria because we continue to believe that there's no military solution to this crisis."

TITLE: U.S. options aim not at regime change in Syria: officials
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