U.S. Syria Strikes Won’t Be Limited to Single Day, Official Says

U.S. officials planning potential military strike on Syria are not limited to a one-day operation, an administration official said, as the U.K. drafted a United Nations resolution to condemn last week’s suspected chemical attack.

The U.S. and its allies are still working to define goals for a military strike on Syria, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss war planning efforts.

Having ruled out a regime change and overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, the Obama administration is seeking to clarify the objectives, plan for potential fallout of Assad striking out against allies and neighbors and establish legal justification for an attack before committing itself to military action, the official said.

The U.S. is concerned that allowing the Syrian government to go unpunished after four episodes of chemical weapons use would send a signal to other countries including North Korea that have large inventories of such weapons, the official said.

Obama officials are still in consultations with NATO allies including the U.K., France, Germany, and Turkey as well as Arab nations to determine which countries would participate in a military strike on Syria, the official said.

Deter, Degrade

Among the options being explored are how to deter and degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability and defeating the Assad government’s defense capability, another U.S. official said.

The U.K. drafted a United Nations resolution to condemn last week’s suspected chemical attacks in Syria and authorize action to protect civilians, as the head of the UN said its inspectors need time to establish the facts.

The resolution will allow the use of “all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said in an e-mailed statement. The draft resolution will be discussed with the other four permanent UN Security Council members -- the U.S., Russia, China and France -- in New York later today.

“It’s important to send a message to Assad that this is not about regime change but also to send a message that hurts,” Volker Perthes, director of the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs, which advises Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, said in an interview.

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