"I don't agree that these are similar situations," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said when asked about the wrong intelligence inputs that led to the Gulf war.

"There 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 a military invasion - an open-ended military invasion of another country, with the final goal being regime change. That was the articulated policy of the previous administration," he said.

Referring to Syria, Earnest said a preponderance of evidence, available in the public domain, suggests that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against innocent civilians and we don't have to search high and low for that evidence.

"That evidence exists thanks to social media, thanks to some of the videos that have been broadcast, thanks to some of the good work independent journalists are doing on the ground, thanks to the reports of non-governmental organisations that are on the ground trying to meet the needs of the Syrian people," he said in response to a question.

Syrian opposition and the West have accused President Bashar Al-Assad's government of using chemical weapons last week in a Damascus suburb, a charge denied by the government.

Earnest said President Barack Obama has been very clear that he is not contemplating an open-ended military action and also he is not talking about regime change in Syria.

"We are talking about enforcing a critically important international norm. So I thoroughly reject the suggestion that these two situations are somehow similar," Earnest said.

"What we are looking for is a response to the use of chemical weapons that will enforce a critically important international norm. The global community believes that it's important for us to enforce that norm, and the President has assessed that it's in the core national interest of the United States of America for us to enforce that norm," he said.

"But it is our view that there is not a military solution to the broader conflict that’s taking place in Syria. We've seen 100,000 people in Syria lose their lives. We've seen millions of people in Syria displaced within that country or to neighbouring countries. What we're seeing there is a tragic situation, even outside of the abhorrent use of chemical weapons," he argued.

"The United States believes, and we've been working with our partners and allies around the globe to try to bring about a transition of leadership in Syria so that the Syrian people can have a government that reflects their will," Earnest said.

"That is somewhat different than the approach that was taken by the previous administration dealing with Iraq," he added.


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