The chances of U.S intervention in war-torn Syria just increased.
Why? Because for the fist time, the United States has confirmed that there is clear evidence chemical weapons have been used in Syria's two-year civil war.
Now the world is looking to President Obama, who months ago, amid allegations of chemical weapons use in wartorn Syria, delivered a firm ultimatum stating that such an act would be "a game changer" for the United States: "A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus."
President Obama has also stated that the U.S along with its global partners must thoroughly investigate suspicions. But what if the U.S does intervene?
Does this mean it'll go in and bomb Syria? Not exactly. Here are some options being discussed as possible plans of action for U.S involvement in the humanitarian disaster in Syria:
Providing Arms to the Rebels
According to the Guardian this is the most attractive option for Britain and France. Congressmen briefed by secretary of state John Kerry on Friday in Washington say the most likely option would involve joining other countries in arming specific rebel groups.
But the Daily Mail reports, the Obama administration fears that the weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists that are currently embroiled in the confrontation. Syria's controversial president has also warned that the West will pay a price 'in the heart' of Europe and the U.S for their alleged "backing Islamic fundamentalist" in his country's civil war.
Imposing a No Fly Zone
One issue with this option is that chemical weapons do not require aircraft to be used. So even if the U.S decrees a no-fly-zone no one can be sure that this will stop chemical weapons from being used. Also Syria has a sophisticated and robust air defense system and no-fly zone would require nullifying Syrian air defenses - a major military operation.
Destroying Chemical Weapons
There has been discussion of special forces designed to "safely incinerate chemical weapons facilities", but there was skepticism that either would target the chemical problem, which is thought to be widely dispersed. Even if the US opted for air strikes there are risks that poison would be released. There is also the issue that some weapons may no longer by in stockpiles but dispersed throughout the country.
An alternative to full-scale invasion or bombing is to send in special forces to protect the stockpiles. But this would put thousands of American troops on highly dangerous grounds.
Create a "Safe Zone" for Citizens
Some U.S. senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), have also pressed for the Obama administration to set up a narrow, so-called safe zone inside Syria, along its border with Turkey, where citizens can go to find safety. Currently tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have left the country to neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.