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Obama: Syria chemical weapons attack ‘a big event of grave concern’

- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2013

It's still unclear what the U.S. will do about it, but the recent suspected chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government is "clearly a big event of grave concern," President Obama said.

"When you start seeing chemical weapons used on a large scale … it is very troublesome," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CNN broadcast on Friday morning.

Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces reportedly used chemical agents against rebel forces near Damascus, yet another deadly incident in the country's raging civil war.

Mr. Obama previously had said that the use of chemical weapons constitutes the crossing of a "red line" by the Assad government, but thus far U.S. response has been lacking, critics say.

If Assad's forces have indeed used chemical weapons again — the United Nations is seeking to conduct its own investigation — then Mr. Obama concedes the unraveling situation in Syria becomes of even greater concern to the U.S.

The use of chemical weapons "starts getting to come core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases, in the region," Mr. Obama said.

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