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President Barack Obama speaking during an exclusive interview with CNN. Screengrab/CNN

Obama says Syria 'will require America's attention'

The US president called the Syrian attack where it is alleged chemical weapons were used, ‘a big event of grave concern’.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has said in an interview with CNN broadcast today that the Syrian chemical weapons attack that is alleged to have taken place this week is a “big event of grave concern”.

Pro-opposition groups said yesterday that government forces used a “poisonous gas” in an attack but the government says the reports are “totally false”.

President Obama said that the US is in contact with the international community about the Syrian crisis and said “we’re moving through the UN to prompt better action from them”.

UN inspectors

He said that the US are calling on Syrian officials to allow the UN inspectors that are in Syria at the moment, to inspect the site where the alleged chemical attack took place.

A UN team led by Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom has been in Damascus since Sunday to investigate three sites where chemical weapons attacks allegedly occurred in the past. As well as the US, Britain and France have demanded that the team of UN experts be granted immediate access to investigate the site.

However, President Obama said:

We don’t expect cooperation given their past history.

He added that while “the situation in Syria is very difficult” he said there was “a notion” out there that “the US can solve what is a sectarian complex problem within Syria” which he said  ”can sometimes be overstated”. He said:

There is no doubt when you start to see chemical weapons being used on a large scale… it is very troublesome.

He said when such attacks occur it is of concern to the core national interests of the US, which is “making sure weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating” and the need “to protect our allies [and], our bases in the region”. He said:

It is fair to say that as difficult as the problem is it will require America’s attention and hopefully the whole international community’s attention.

Explainer: What is going on in Syria?>

Column: Those Syrian children are dead because the world didn’t try to save them>

Syrian forces bomb area of alleged chemical attack>

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