President Obama: 'No Final Decision' on Syria

The president says his team is looking at a "wide range of options."
10:40 | 08/30/13

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Transcript for President Obama: 'No Final Decision' on Syria
This is an ABC news special report. Crisis in Syria. Good afternoon I'm David -- here at ABC news world headquarters in new York and become on the air at this hour with breaking news President Obama. Addressing the crisis in Syria the president in the cabinet room saying he and his team are looking at a wide range of options when it comes to military action against Syria. The president telling a group of world leaders no boots on the ground no long term campaign what would be a quote limited act. This comes after the world saw those images in the last week of victims in Syria of a chemical attack. In the suburbs of Damascus and of course we now know that UN inspectors are on the ground they're expected to finish their work there tomorrow. Secretary of state John Kerry just a short time ago speaking of the evidence found -- new US intelligence report. Calling it clear and compelling in fact take a look at the numbers. That report saying the US now believes at least 14129. Syrians were killed in this attack including at least 426. Children. He went beyond that at least twelve attacks were carried out in one day and Kerry said the US intercepted communications. That a senior regime official confirmed the use of chemical weapons and and -- that Syrian troops were in full chemical gear. In advance of that attack. And so I want to bring in our chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz in Washington as we await more from the president at this hour and -- we heard secretary Kerry saying. It matters here if nothing is done it matters -- the world speaks out in condemnation. And then nothing happens that would sound an awful lot like action's going to be taken. Well it seems absolutely inevitable David clearly the administration is now trying to convince the allies the congress and the people of the US who are not inclined to get involved in another conflict in the mideast. He was blunt and passionate he said this was not Iraq -- are. -- I'm very grateful to have my fellow residents here. Vice president before -- begin. -- a few words about. The situation in Syria. As Hussein. Today we released our unclassified assessment -- -- -- high confidence that the Syrian regime carried out there chemical weapons attack that killed. Well over a thousand people including numbers shall. This follows perfect images that shocked us all. That's kind of attack is a challenge. To the -- We cannot accept a world where women and children. And innocent civilians -- gas. Terrible scale. This kind of attack threatens our national security interests. Five violating. Well established international norms against the use of chemical weapons. Five further threatening friends and allies. -- in the region like Israel and Turkey. And Jordan. And it increased the risk that chemical weapons. Will be used in the future and all of the fans of terrorists who might use them against us. So. I have said before. And I meant what I -- The world has an obligation. To make sure that we maintain the norm against the use. -- I have not made any final. About. Various factions that might be taken to help enforce that moment. But as I've always. I have had five military. And fourteen look at a wide range of options. We have consulted. We. Allies we consulted with congress and I've been in conversations. -- All the interest. And you know are we considering. Any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground. That was involved in long term campaign. But we are looking at the possibility. -- it. Act that word help. Make sure that not only Syria but others around the world. Understand. The international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons. Bad and -- Both of them are repeat. Without considering that -- open ended. Commitment without considering any boots on the ground approach. What we will do. Consider. Options that meet the narrow concern -- chemical weapons understanding that there's not going to be. A solely military solution to the underlying conflict and tragedy. That's taking place. Insert. Had I will continue to consult closely -- congress in addition to the release of the unclassified document. We are providing a classified briefing to congressional staff today and will offer that -- classified briefing. Two members -- as -- -- the national -- and I will continue. Provide updates. To the American people as. Get more information. When that I want Walt presence -- President. -- -- -- President Karadzic. Very -- to the White House. These countries but they represent all -- very deep ties. To the United States both those allies and because -- -- hundred people to people relations. That we have. With the country's I want to thank all the president's where your and the nation's all the big news promote democracy. Not only in the -- country but. Around the world. The baltics are among our most reliable allies. And -- Our commitment to their security. -- rock solid. Our soldier's sacrifice together in Afghanistan. And the Baltic ports continue to help support our troops as we transition the NATO mission. Today we're gonna spend some time talking about -- commitments to -- President Obama there in the cabinet room surrounded by leaders from the Baltic States and saying its focus on Syria -- beginning. Others talk they're saying I have not made a final decision when it comes to military action in Syria but he did go on to say. That he continues to look at the possibility of a limited. And narrow laughed as he consults with his a team at the White House and I want to bring in our White House correspondent -- -- and -- of course. As he sits there -- Baltic leaders we know that Britain decided not to get involved voting last night and parliament. -- not to join any US effort so what do we know about. What's going on inside the White House is the president ready does he wished there was in -- more support for this. -- -- you can see in this and we when he said here David. Everything the president is doing right now so the filter of a rock. That they'll put the president believes that the that the country itself is weary of war doesn't want to get involved in the mideast. But is back again is against the wall in this case. If there is an internal fight going on inside the White House and in fact inside of president Obama's head. He wants to wait for more international cooperation at the same time he's worried that -- continue to lose support both here at home. And across the world if he delays much feel that much longer so there really is a belief here that this could happen. This some kind of limited military attack. Could happen as soon as this weekend Jim as you know -- was the president himself who set that red line a year ago he said just moments ago that the world has an obligation. When it comes to the use of chemical weapons. Yes and that's what that's what has -- sort of backed against the -- he does not want. And he said in an -- this time and other times that there will be no boots on the ground no long extended campaign no effort by the American military to unseat. The president of Syria. So that's not what he's about here but what he is he's done is -- as you say put himself in a corner because he is said there was a red line about these chemical weapons. He says -- intelligence agency has delivered a report which says. Clearly that the Syrian government was involved and did it perpetrate a mass killing of its own people with chemical weapons the president feels he has to even though he doesn't want to go win. Jim -- at the White House and our chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran joins us from Beirut. Our viewer there -- -- -- and Terry you're telling me earlier that there's been movement at Syrian military bases. Lots of movement David two things from out here first that movement. The world this is expecting this attack so -- -- Syrians and the targets are pretty obvious those key military bases. -- government ministries. And we are hearing from ordinary citizens from. From rebels in the local media that the Syrians are moving lock stock and barrel out of their scud missiles tanks rocket launchers. Even office furniture and equipment there's not going to be much left when the attack comes except for some poor soul in the middle of the night is standing guarding an -- base. The other thing this crisis has strengthened president Bashar Assad no question about it. Many millions of Arabs are rallying to him as he stands. Facing defying the United States and in their judgment Israel this whole region is a tinderbox right now it's all right Terry. -- standing watch from Beirut this afternoon I want to bring in retired colonel Steven -- ABC news consultant Stephen we've heard from secretary Kerry earlier today that this would. Not look like Afghanistan not look like a rock so what would it look like. Given the constraints the White House laid out there -- I think the best way to describe this will be a punitive strike to punish aside for using chemical weapons on his people. And hopefully get to to deter him from doing it again. So when and if this strike takes place will president decide wake up still in power the -- -- for the white has been very clear about what this strike won't be it won't be regime change so mistress side can sleep soundly in his bed it won't upset the military balance of power so the rebels cannot expect to gain anything from this. The most importantly the president said he does not want to get involved in a Syrian civil war. We're -- -- -- -- -- larger Middle East conflict -- -- here in New York Steve think you'll know you'll be with us every step of the way to president this afternoon. Saying he continues a look at the very possibility of a limited and narrow -- When it comes to military action against Syria our thanks to Steve to Martha -- Terry. Our entire team here Diana and the team we'll have a complete report tonight on world news with Diane Sawyer and of course up to the minute reporting at We'll see you later for world news until then have a -- This has been a special.

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

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