Marines at Camp Pendleton. [photo by Pete Souza, via Instagram]

Marines at Camp Pendleton pictured here in early August, while today a world away U.S. naval forces move toward Syria.
[photo by Pete Souza, via Instagram]

THE PRESSURE on President Obama to act on Syria after news of chemical weapons spread across the globe continues to be intense, with reporting from the AP that naval forces are moving in as Obama considers possible military action. The operative word is considers, with a decision of this magnitude coming with great risk.

Three hospitals in Syria’s Damascus governorate that are supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have reported to MSF that they received approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Of those patients, 355 reportedly died.

[…] “MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack,” said Dr. Janssens. “However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events””characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers””strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent. This would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, which absolutely prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.”

[Doctors Without Borders]

The man who ordered a very risky mission inside the borders of Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden certainly knows the stakes. President Obama is also aware that the international community is awaiting the American president’s lead, which is why he signed up for this job in the first place.

Heavy is the burden of the person who has a finger on the Tomahawks.

Reporting by the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. naval forces are moving closer to Syria as President Barack Obama considers military options for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government. The president emphasized that a quick intervention in the Syrian civil war was problematic, given the international considerations that should precede a military strike.

The White House said the president would meet Saturday with his national security team to consider possible next steps by the United States. Officials say once the facts are clear, Obama will make a decision about how to proceed.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to discuss any specific force movements while saying that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria. U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press that the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria.

[…] U.S. defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss ship movements publicly. But if the U.S. wants to send a message to Assad, the most likely military action would be a Tomahawk missile strike, launched from a ship in the Mediterranean.

This post has been updated.