Digital Report: US Contemplates Missile Strikes Against Syrian Regime

U.S., France and Britain align against Russia, China in demand for action against Assad regime.
16:31 | 08/26/13

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Transcript for Digital Report: US Contemplates Missile Strikes Against Syrian Regime
This is a special report from ABC news. I'm tired and is in New York this is an ABC news digital special report there is quote very little doubt today that the Syrian government forces used chemical weapons to kill rebels. And civilians many of them children. That is the word from secretary of state John Kerry as the White House continues to investigate and maneuver potentially setting the stage for military intervention in Syria. -- hear from both the State Department and the White House later today but right now. We're joined by ABC's Aaron could turn ski in New York cured -- -- Skype from Moscow and makeshift for an. In London Aaron let's go to you first -- -- regime finally cleared the way for UN inspectors. To get to that cited the alleged chemical attack this weekend and we actually have some amateur video of them looking at the wounded but. They weren't able to accomplish -- finish the mission worth it. No in this -- a fourteen day mission so it's not like this is going to be the only day of this and it wasn't a very good start for the UN team which came under sniper fire the UN says. As they headed out on their first day of trying to investigate. The attack that that was allegedly carried out by the the Syrian regime. And visited the UN team after coming under sniper fire had to return to its home base get another car and only then was -- able to get on its way. The UN just give us some word that it's it's a team of inspectors was able to do some interviewing of of hospital patients get on the ground start the work. A but it was not a very good start for the day for them. There's some men have said that already too much time has passed between the alleged attack and when inspectors finally get to really take a good look at the site do we know when we can expect to -- reports. Well they've -- they are supposed to be on the ground for fourteen days so -- think sometime after that. And then it's not up to the UN inspectors to necessarily make conclusions that's up to the UN Security Council so merely inviting inspectors in. Was a way for the Syrian regime to potentially delay any action at the UN Security Council. Which is now why the DUS and and some other allies are contemplating whether to bypass the UN entirely. And and take some formal set of actions in and of themselves. The problem with the -- -- the inspectors -- a once in fact Sarin gas used as a chemical agent. It dissipates quickly and and it may not that the evidence may not be there for the inspectors to find. Studio who is behind the sniper fire that the investigators. Encountered -- we know that they had assurances from both the rebels and the government that they would be allowed to do their work. And therein lies the problem we don't know from where that the snipers came what were they actually government agents or revelations -- where they just people. There's an an awful lot of people -- an awful lot of guns are running around so we don't know -- the snipers -- or. Whether they were acting all at the behest of some formal agency or entity. But whoever they were that they were enough to make the UN inspectors turn around and and have a delayed start to their first day. Case of the inspectors into and investigate for about fourteen days they've had to return to the conclusion. If they conclude that indeed chemical weapons were used and that the -- regime was responsible what is the next step for the UN. Well it would be up to the UN Security Council to find that the regime -- the -- somebody used these chemical weapons and then. How to respond and and that's where things get a bit messy as they sometimes do in the work of diplomacy because it's likely that Russia would hold up any potential action by the UN Security Council. And so the the the US and its allies would have to find some other way around it but you'll hear from ABC's Karen Rania and and Moscow and a -- that that Russia is already sending signals that it it would not. Necessarily favor. Some kind of end run around the UN Security Council which it does have the power. To what it -- to stop so it's the work of diplomacy becomes. Very very complicated and and you will hear from businesses secretary Carrie -- into whether. He believes the US is any clothes that are taking unilateral action we know in the past he's run into some problems at the Pentagon. OK you know what -- perfect segue to cheered -- let's bring her in via Skype from Moscow to talk a little bit concerned him about Russia's state in this -- it. Where does Russia stand here as of today we know we have a new statement from Russia's foreign minister spokesperson. Who talked about not pre judging what's happening here. Yet -- your introduction you mentioned that there was no doubt in the United States is mind that the Syrian government was behind that chemical weapons attack. That's not the case here in Russia that the Russian foreign minister over the weekend and again today has cast doubt on the evidence that's been presented to implicate the government. Not there have been videos and a comfortable lead. That some people injured being treated. NBC and the Russian government has been saying suggesting or quoting reports that. Many of those videos were posted on -- before the attack took place. Several experts with you know how YouTube works have said that. That's probably -- due to the fact that all all YouTube videos are posted on California at times so. When this attack took place early warning Syria time to -- visited posted. With a date -- the day before in California. But the Russians still aren't buying that again today they double down on their criticisms of this evidence. But what they do what they do want this unbiased. UN investigative team to go in and find out exactly what happened. You know the the word from the White House -- the sentiment is that the US is becoming stronger in its conviction that indeed chemical weapons were used we have any response yet from the Russian government's. About that the US is saying quote there is very little doubt in their minds that this was indeed -- chemical attack. Note that did the Russians are extremely worried about this in -- today it's. -- -- -- -- With suggesting that the United States and its European Alex would use this -- what he is what he called. A pretext to beginning. A military intervention in Syria. And the Russians are very opposed to this this is that a Russian policy goes back decades that they don't like. Other countries meddling in other countries affairs they fear that it would set a precedent for something -- country want to get involved there. That's that there are extremely worried about this but not just for sort of -- Oden a theoretical reasons think they released here. The -- Unintended consequences of the foreign intervention in Syria they point to the experiences of Iraq. Libya just a couple years ago. Ask conflicts where the you know where the United States and its allies got involved. And -- they were unable to control the Condit did the idea that in the outcome of the situation. There were more militants that came in and it uses there is a safe havens -- that spread to neighboring areas. So so foreign minister -- today was warning. That the region is already unstable and that foreign intervention could make that much worse. And certain we just heard from and -- her -- that it would be very easy for Russia had to. Prevent action by the UN Security Council but what are the repercussions for the Russians -- if they did indeed do that it's. Yet the other Russians do no veto in the Security Council just like the United States and they can use that anytime they want to -- they frequently do for things like this. But you know the United States does have other options that its use in the past you never -- in the case of Iraq in 2003. The Russia is one of the countries who opposed. The US led invasion and did not give -- the United Nations authorization in the US went around the united nations Security Council incident -- came up -- -- Coalition of the Willing. And and that that was a legal justification. And that's certainly an option that's open to the United States and its allies this time around. Do we hear any other countries supporting -- its position. -- you know calling for extreme caution in dealing with Syria at this point. I think it usually secure enough people who work or cautious about this I think the Russians go bit further there are opposed to it. And -- its -- not necessarily wrong when you when when you look at that the consequences of previous actions it's never easy and it's never simple it's never clean. And it's very difficult is it to control the outcome of that that you see in countries like China put out statements saying that they feel everybody should be cautious your they haven't gone quite as far as the Russians. The running -- for example are allies of the of the Assad government. And of course they are opposed to it but for very different reasons. You know -- the Russians here -- -- -- -- -- -- they're not alone in this but they're certainly. Also its biggest allies in their -- biggest remaining ally. And added that since they're they're pretty isolated. All right ABC's Karen -- -- from Moscow thank you so much for joining us. Let's go now to nick Schiffer and -- ABC headquarters in London nick we have Russia saying any intervention would be a huge mistake but. The UK and France it seem as if they are far more eager to jump in even more than the US that we have the United States. Becoming more entrenched perhaps in the conviction that this was a chemical attack so where did these European allies to -- But I think you gain a real alignment between Britain France in the US and the reason that the three of them. Are important as there -- the three countries other than Russia and China. To have a veto on the security council -- they're also the ones that would militarily. Lead any kind of strike of course it would be American assets mostly but what you're seeing is an alignment between. American officials. British officials French officials all saying one. We're on the same page and that's really important if the three of them are going to go and do something in Syria. Even if Russia or China or parts of the rest the world -- and not only are they on the same page. But they're saying things like we can go in with outs of Security Council authorization. And basically what. The brits are trying to do what the French are trying to do and and the Americans are as well in coordination. Is who laid the ground work for not having to -- to the Security Council I think Aaron makes a very good -- is not a one day mission to figure out whether there was chemical weapons. Use last week it's a fourteen day mission. No one is talking about waiting for two weeks to respond to a chemical attack. What the British foreign secretary said today but the French president said today in what unnamed US official -- of the weekend as we cannot. Not to respond and that means that as the US French and British make their own conclusions about what happened. They are setting the desire and the need within their own countries to respond to that cannot wait for fourteen days daytime -- on that is more like a week. So what would. An intervention look like at this -- what are some of the military strategies that are being bounced around. I think it's very clear what the Pentagon. And what the White House has said mostly through anonymous sources as well as pentagon officials were meeting this week. In the region they say we have no desire to go anywhere near Syria Syria has. One of the largest air defense systems in the world what we can do though is from the Mediterranean from ships in the Mediterranean and from fighter jets. Outside of Syrian airspace far outside of Syrian airspace. We can conduct what we hope with the US rather insane what they hope our pinpoint attacks now what are those targets possibly chemical weapons. Factories themselves are of course for obvious reasons you can't hit the factory itself. -- you have some kind of mechanism that delivers the chemical weapon. The US strikes could go after those mechanisms they can also decide to attack the regime itself some kind of -- -- or some kind of building that represents the regime those are the options being put forward right now. You have Bashar Al Assad in Syria though warning that. Any such attack or military and intervention would -- in quote failure he reference Vietnam and newer wars as well referring to Iraq and Afghanistan. That hadn't necessarily turned out quite the way expected it as anticipated by the United States. Yet I think present aside went on to Russian news -- gave an interview. Today and he said even more than that -- he's basically goading the US he said look the west can wage wars but can they win them. And so there's a real. Rhetorical battle here coming from Damascus. That come on guys come on and we're ready for you that's the message that -- wants to -- out of course the US is also upping its rhetoric talking over the weekend about we've crossed a red line that even if these inspectors were allowed in it wouldn't matter because it was too late to Syrian regime waited too long to let them in so it's very clear that there is a mood of crisis in Washington in London and Paris. In Moscow and in Damascus and it's very clear that. We're moving towards at least rhetorically we're moving towards the strike. And that any other outcome at this point would actually require something to happen. The Middle East. Does appear to be divided on the issue as well Howard allies -- Saudi Arabia react to missile strikes. I think if it's a complicated -- and if we had a map in front as we can say. Who's supporting who. Turkey in the last couple hours have said. That they support the west even if they go around the Security Council and so Turkey would be on that side. Iran as -- it suggested is very much in the in the Syrian regime's side and in fact one of -- worries among US officials is that. OK if the US response inside of Syria. Who responds back it's not clear that the Syrians do that perhaps the Iran means do that where they use Hezbollah which is in southern Lebanon right on the northern. Israeli border and Saudi Arabia. Is also against the Asad regime and so they are. More on the west side -- more on the US decide I mean we go through it and it's kind of sectarian who backs -- but ultimately. Most of the powers in the region are siding with the west and it's not clear whether there for a military strike. But the pressure on the side is increasing the isolation of aside is increasing and it's really down to Moscow that is really profit. Him you know adding to the crisis is this terrible refugee situation more than a million refugees have now. Scattered across Syria and as crosses borders. Tell us a little bit about that and and how that may figure in two. Perhaps changing minds or affecting a decision of the Security -- -- internationally outside of the UN. It's it's a really good question -- really heartbreaking I mean this is a civil war that's been going on for years and that will continue to go on long after next week -- the week after. Whenever the US decides. What to do we're talking about over a 100000. Dead. We're talking about millions of refugees and a million children. Who are refugees and of those about sixty or 70% are under the age of fourteen so we're talking about little kids an entire generation. Of Syrians. Who will grow up. Not in their own country. And that's the backdrop of this that's perhaps the most important thing. At that as we talk about that a chemical weapons as we talk about diplomatic response that humanitarian. Crisis and it is a crisis. -- is perhaps most important thing but a lot of critics are saying this morning. No matter what the west decides -- matter what actually happened last week whether that chemical attack was as big. As the rebels and Syria claim it is whether it killed as many people as the rebels and Syria -- it did. The humanitarian aspect of this is not going to change that much and that the Security Council will not be focused on that. And that that's the real crime here that so many Syrians are suffering because of the civil war and it's not clear whether -- can get any better and Russia. Four for one says look the civil war will get worse if the west goes in and that's also what president sons and. -- tragic situation ABC's -- different in London thank you so much for joining us. Also our thanks to -- -- in Moscow and character ski in New York. He keep up with the latest on -- and watch reactions from the State Department and the White House coming up later today right here. On abcnews.com. For now anti Hernandez in New York with this ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from the.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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