Former senior White House advisor David Axelrod said Friday he expects the administration to take some kind of military action in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people.
"I expect that they will take action, whether it's the no-fly zone . . . or surgical strikes. We'll see," Axelrod said on MCNBC's "Morning Joe."
He added later that he believes the president "does have to act here."
Calling the images of victims of the alleged attacks, including children, "searing," Axelrod said, "Plainly there needs to be action. The question is, what action?"
"It's about what you do, what the long-term consequences are," he said.
Syrian government reportedly launched a poisonous gas attack near Damascus Wednesday, killing hundreds of people, many of them children. Amateur videos released in the hours after showed rescue attempts for the injured and displayed dead bodies. The Syrian government denied the attacks.
President Barack Obama, who has warned in the past that use of chemical weapons would be a "game changer" in Syria, responded Friday to the latest report of Syrian chemical use by calling it "a big event of grave concern."
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has called for a quick response. But Axelrod said the president is "burdened by his sense of responsibility here," and that he must take caution when making decisions about how to act.
"When you are the president of the United States, and you have lives under your command, you have to make those decisions with more precision," he said.
Axelrod said the president also has be aware of the various factions fighting for control of Syria.
"You don't want to be in a position where, in some way, you empower the wrong people," he said.
The political adviser, now an MSNBC contributor, also suggested that a strong U.S. response might be necessary to prevent other leaders from becoming emboldened to use chemical weapons.
It would be "a message to anyone who might use weapons of mass destruction. And that's why he does have to act here," Axelrod said. "I believe he will act based on what he said, and based on what the facts on the ground appear to be."
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