A US F-16 takes off from the Aviano air base in Italy.
In an effort to bypass the United Nations, national security aides to President Barack Obama are looking at the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s as a possible blueprint for military action against Syria.
Faced with the possibility of a Russian veto at the UN Security Council, President Obama is considering whether to order military strikes against Syria without a UN mandate, according to The New York Times.
In 1999, former president Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the pretext of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes against Kosovo without seeking approval from the UN.
Obama indicated on Friday that doing so in Syria would require a robust international coalition.
“If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work?” Obama said in an interview with CNN.
In ongoing White House meetings, President Obama and senior officials from the Pentagon and the State Department are discussing a range of options, including airstrikes, for Syria after allegations emerged that the Syrian government was behind a recent chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs.
The Syrian government and the army categorically denied any role in Wednesday’s alleged chemical attack.
A senior administration official told the Times on condition of anonymity that the Kosovo precedent was one of many options being discussed in White House meetings on Syria.
“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” said the official. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria. He added that naval forces were being positioned closer to Syria in anticipation of a possible order for attack by the president.
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry said evidence was mounting that the chemical attack was "clearly provocative in nature" and that footage posted online seeking to incriminate the Syrian government had been posted before the chemical attack actually took place.
It also accused the insurgents of "directly impeding an objective investigation" of the incident.
UN Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane arrived in Damascus on Saturday for talks aimed at establishing an investigation into Wednesday’s attack.