White House formally submits request for Syria action to Congress
President Barack Obama speaks about Syria from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 31, 2013. (AFP)
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The White House formally asked Congress on Saturday for authorization to conduct military strikes in Syria in a draft resolution framing a narrow set of operations.
The resolution came as part of a bid to ease fears of another open-ended war.
The document says support from Congress, requested by President Barack Obama in a stunning development on Saturday, would “send a clear signal of American resolve.”
“The objective of the United States use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction,” the draft resolution reads.
Obama on Saturday decided to ask Congress to authorize military action against Syria, in retaliation for what the U.S. says is a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“The U.S. should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” Obama said when speaking to Americans in a televised address, but he added that he “will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.”
The president, however, said that he was willing to proceed without the consent of the United Nations, a body which he called “paralyzed.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Saturday that he would hold a vote on authorizing Obama to use limited military force against Syria no later than the week of Sept. 9.
Reid said the Senate would hold public hearings on the issue next week with senior Obama administration officials, and would hold classified and unclassified briefings for senators throughout the week.
"I believe the use of military force against Syria is both justified and necessary," Reid said in a statement, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad had committed "atrocities” against civilians with a chemical weapons attack.
Obama described the chemical attack in Syria on Aug. 21 as the “worse massacre by chemical weapons in the 21st century” and an “attack on human dignity.”
Washington says Assad’s government carried out a chemical weapons attack against civilians in a Damascus district where more than 1,400 Syrians were killed.
Obama said it was the responsibility of the U.S. to enforce the international consensus against the use of such weapons and added that the “[U.S.] military has positioned assets in the region.”
The president, however, didn’t give an exact time frame to launch the strike.