WASHINGTON: Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.
About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.
More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days - just as Syria's civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken Aug. 19-23, found that 25 percent of Americans would support U.S. intervention if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46 percent would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for U.S. action since Aug. 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6 percent did not.
Taken together, the polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb this week, may actually be hardening many Americans' resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East.
The results - and Reuters/Ipsos polling on the use-of-chemicals question since early June - suggest that if Obama decides to undertake military action against Assad's regime, he will do so in the face of steady opposition from an American public wary after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The president warned Syria's government last year that any attempt to deploy or use chemical or biological weapons would cross a "red line."
As the war has escalated, Obama's administration has come under increasing pressure from various governments, including those in France and Israel, to respond more forcefully to what many have called an unfolding humanitarian and political crisis.
However, Obama does not appear to be feeling much pressure over Syria from the American people.
In this week's Reuters/Ipsos survey of 1,448 people, just 27 percent said they supported his decision to send arms to some Syrian rebels; 47 percent were opposed. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for each number.
About 11 percent said Obama should do more to intervene in Syria than sending arms to the rebels, while 89 percent said he should not help the rebels.