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Obama declares ground troops not being considered for Syria

President Obama responds to a question on Syria at a news conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, during a visit to meet Latin American leaders.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- President Obama said he “does not foresee” sending ground troops into the bloody civil war in Syria, a comment that appears aimed at reassuring Americans that U.S. involvement in another Mideast war is not on the horizon.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Costa Rica, Obama explicitly noted that ground troops were not among the options being considered as his administration seeks to bolster rebel forces trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad. The remarks were notable because Obama and other U.S. officials have repeatedly refused to offer details on any of the steps under review.

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But Obama made an exception Friday. Asked about the possibility of sending troops, the president initially did not answer a reporter’s question, apparently by accident. He later returned to the topic because, he said, he didn’t want his silence to be considered “news.”

“As a general rule, I don’t rule things out as commander-in-chief because circumstances change,” Obama said. “Having said that, I do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria -- American boots on the ground in Syria -- would not only be good for America but also would be good for Syria.”

Obama said he had consulted with other leaders in the region and “they agree with that assessment.”

Obama’s assessment is not a surprise. While some analysts and lawmakers are calling for the White House to directly supply the rebel forces with lethal weapons, there is virtually no talk of sending troops.

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Obama said Friday that the U.S. continues to investigate “when, where or how” chemical weapons were used in Syria.

And he repeated his stance that information confirming that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons would be a “game changer,” although he did explain what steps the U.S. would take or in what time frame.

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