A U.S. official briefed on the potential military strike on Syria said the White House is playing a difficult balancing act, seeking to launch a firm attack on President Bashar Assad’s government forces without it being so devastating it would prompt a response from Syria’s allies, according to The Los Angles Times.

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” the U.S. official reportedly told the Times.

The official added the White House was probing a strike with a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

The Los Angles Times added that “the apparent poison gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians last week is testing President Obama’s views on military intervention, international law and the United Nations as no previous crisis has done.”

Map: 35 places in Syria likely to get hit with a cruise missile if an attack were to take place, courtesy of Foreign Policy:

Map

Mapped: The sites Syria will likely get hit with a U.S. cruise missile if an attack were to take place. (Image source: Foreign Policy)

Russia and China have continued to warn against a military attack on Syria, reportedly saying it will have “catastrophic consequences” for the region.

Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, has called for the U.S. to show “prudence” over the crisis and observe international law.

“Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa,” he said in a statement, according to the BBC.

In a scathing set of remarks on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry that it is “undeniable” chemical weapons were used in Syria last week and said President Obama believes there must be “accountability.”

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