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White House: Syria Situation Not Like Iraq

Updated: Thursday, August 29 2013, 04:20 PM EDT

In a press briefing Thursday Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest discouraged drawing parallels between Iraq and the current situation in Syria.

"As it relates to the situation in Iraq, I don't agree that these are similar situations," Earnest said. 'I think that here are some very important differences. What we saw in that circumstance was an administration that was searching high and low to produce evidence to justify an open-ended military innovation of another country with the final goal being regime change. That was the articulated policy of the previous administration.

"What we have seen here, tragically, is a preponderance of evidence available in the public domain that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against innocent civilians. We don't have to search high and low for that evidence, that evidence exists thank to social media, thanks to some of the videos that have been broadcast, thanks to some of the good work that independent journalists are doing on the ground, thanks to the reports of NGO that are on the ground trying to meet the needs of the Syrian people.

"That's the first thing, the second is that the President is clear that he is not contemplating an open-ended military action. He is contemplating something very discreet and limited. Thirdly, the President was candid in his interview yesterday about the fact that we are not talking about regime change here - that we are talking about enforcing a critically important international norm."

White House: Syria Situation Not Like Iraq

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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.

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