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President Barack Obama called Syria’s use of chemical weapons “a challenge to the world,” but said that he has not made a final decision on military intervention, during a brief statement from the White House on Friday.

“We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed,” the president said. “This kind of attack threatens our national security interests.”

President Obama stressed that he has “not made a final decision” on military action, but said that he is consulting with Congress and America’s allies as he plans his next move.

The president also reiterated Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurance that the United States would not launch a ground war in Syria, insisting that the U.S. response would be “narrow” and “limited.”

“We’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach,” Obama said.

The president made his statement at a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and the presidents of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. Shortly before President Obama spoke, Secretary Kerry made a far more expansive case for military intervention, calling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad “a thug and a murderer” and insisting that he would be held accountable for using chemical weapons.

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