As Syrian Conflict Enters New Phase, Possibilities for a U.S. Intervention

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In Syria, the on-going civil conflict pitting President Bashar al-Assad against anti-regime rebels has clearly entered a new phase. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday the use of chemical weapons undoubtedly required a U.S. response. "We cannot allow this kind of violation of an international norm with all the attendant grave consequences it represents to go unanswered," he said. Now Pentagon officials say President Obama is considering a range of military actions against Syria in order to limit the Assad regime's ability to launch further chemical weapon attacks.  However, officials reportedly told The New York Times that it's unlikely a response would directly target chemical sites for fear of dire environmental and humanitarian consequences. Instead, U.S. strikes would likely target Syrian military units. Ambassador Kurt Volker, a former United States Permanent Representative to NATO, considers likely possible U.S. responses. Phyllis E. Oakley, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and adjunct lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, reflects on the historic precedent for targeted strikes.