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'Red Line' Declaration on Syria Coming Back to Haunt Obama?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the conflict in Syria continues to heat up, so does pressure on President Obama to take some action, especially with allegations of chemical agents now being used.

The White House is pushing back criticism about Obama's statement last August in which he said the Syrian government would cross a "red line" if it was determined that civilians were being attacked with chemical agents.

Press secretary Jay Carney said at a briefing Monday that a New York Times story about Obama aides being shocked with that particular declaration was inaccurate, contending that "the president's use of the term 'red line' was deliberate and was based on U.S. policy."

Nevertheless, with evidence mounting that chemical weapons were used in Syria, critics are saying that a "red line" admonition is meaningless without action.

According to Carney, the president is "looking at a range of options, and he is not removing any option from the table" if there is incontrovertible proof that President Bashar al-Assad's regime has now included chemical weapons in its arsenal.

There has been talk of sending more non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebel groups or possibly arming them although that option is fraught with the possibility of weapons falling into the hands of al Qaeda groups also operating in Syria.

Meanwhile, the White House spokesman also rejected a report by a United Nations investigator, alleging opposition forces have used deadly sarin gas, saying, "We think that any use of chemical weapons in Syria is almost certain to have been done by the Assad regime."

The Obama administration is also defending Israeli air strikes in Syria that targeted high-tech weapons being transported to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, explaining that Israel "is certainly within their right to take action to protect themselves."

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