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US Still Defining Objectives of Military Strike While Preparing Evidence Against Syria

Updated: Thursday, August 29 2013, 12:37 PM EDT

While the Obama administration insists the Syrian government must be punished, U.S. officials are still assessing how best to do it.

Two senior administration officials say they are grappling with what type of military strike might deter future chemical weapons attacks while also trying to assess how President Bashar Assad would respond.

In the meantime, U.S. intelligence agencies are preparing a report laying out the evidence against Assad's government in chemical weapons attacks on civilians. A classified version would be sent to key members of Congress and a declassified version would be released publicly.

However, the White House says it's already convinced the Assad regime was behind the attacks and is rounding up support from international partners as it plans a possible military response.

One senior official says if action is taken, the objective and reasons must be "clearly defined" and based on "clear facts."

AP-WF-08-28-13 1409GMT

US Still Defining Objectives of Military Strike While Preparing Evidence Against Syria

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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.

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