Poll: Worries about Syrian civil war on the rise
More and more Americans are concerned about the situation in civil-war ravaged Syria, according to a new national survey.
But the CNN/ORC International poll, released Monday, also indicates the public remains cautious over charges that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its citizens.
According to the survey, 36% of Americans are very concerned about the current situation in Syria, with 43% saying they are somewhat concerned and nearly one in five not concerned. The 36% who are concerned is up seven percentage points from a CNN poll conducted last August.
There seems to be a generational divide, with 47% of those age 50 and older very concerned. That number drops to 28% for those under 50.
The poll's release comes as the United Nations human rights commissioner said Monday that the war in Syria has deteriorated to an "intolerable affront to the human conscience."
And the survey's release also comes on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to meet in Paris regarding Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. For months during the Syrian war, Russia appeared to be supporting the country's president, Bashar al-Assad. But that tide seems to be turning, at least gaining some wiggle room for the Russians to help broker an end to the violence.
The U.N. estimates that more than 70,000 Syrians have been killed since anti-government protests in March 2011 led to a fierce government crackdown, an armed uprising and a bloody civil war. The war has uprooted a quarter of the country's 22 million civilians.
Those who want al-Assad gone claim that the president has ordered his forces to slay families and indiscriminately shell neighborhoods across the country, which is about the size of Washington state. Al-Assad says his forces are trying to save the country from "terrorists."
The poll indicates that two-thirds of Americans think it is likely that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, but only 16% are certain that this has happened. By contrast, in 2003, 56% of Americans were certain that Saddam Hussein had biological or chemical weapons.
"Americans -- possibly remembering that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were never found -- express caution over the charges that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its citizens," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
If the U.S. had evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, two-thirds of Americans believe that military action would be justified.
"That's a pretty high number, but also stands in contrast to the 85% in 2003 who felt that U.S. military action against Iraq was justified if that country had biological or chemical weapons," adds Holland.
The survey was conducted by ORC International, with 923 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
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