WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is making a legal argument for undertaking a military response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, but says any action taken against the Syrian regime is not intended to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States and 188 other nations are signatories to a chemical weapons convention opposing the use of such weapons. He says those countries have a stake in ensuring that international norms must be respected. Carney says that there must be a response to a clear violation of those norms.
But Carney says, quote, "The options we are considering are not about regime change."
He says a change in Syria's leadership must occur through political negotiations.
Meanwhile, Italy insisted on Tuesday that any military strike against Syria for its alleged chemical attack on civilians must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council.
Briefing Parliament, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino called the chemical attack a "war crime" but said her government wouldn't support military action without U.N. Security Council authorization.
She said: "Italy would not actively take in any military action ... beyond the context of the Security Council, which for us is and remains the only point of legal reference that cannot be ignored."
Italy offered both military bases on its territory and its own aircraft for the 2011 NATO campaign in Libya. Bonino didn't specify how Italy might view base use during any intervention against Syria led by allies.
Later in the day, Premier Enrico Letta laid out Italy's position in a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Italian leader's office said.
Britain and Italy "agree on the fact that the massive use of chemical weapons in Syria has gone past the point of no return," Letta's office said in a statement. Letta told Cameron that Italy considers the attack on Syrian civilians "an unacceptable crime that cannot be tolerated by the international community."