Barack Obama will seek authorization from legislators before proceeding with a “limited” strike on Syria, in response to its government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. The president says the proposed strike is not “time-sensitive”.
“Over the last several days, we have heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree,” said Obama during a press statement outside the White House.
The President insisted that he did not need the approval of the legislative assembly, but it would make the case for the strike “stronger”.
Obama said that he sought to “make the Assad regime accountable” for the August 21 attack near Damascus in which the US says more than 1,500 civilians were killed with a toxic gas.
But he also said that the mission will be “effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now.”
“We are prepared to strike whenever we choose,” said the President.
Congress returns to session on September 9, and will immediately begin debating the Syrian operation. Obama said that he was heedful of a similar debate conducted in the UK parliament, in which the Conservative government, which endorses direct military action, was defeated by the opposition.
The President stated that he would not rely on unanimous consensus of the UN Security Council, which was necessary for a United Nations-backed operation, saying the body had been “paralyzed”. Russia and China have repeatedly voted against the West on Syria, and Vladimir Putin has said that claims Bashar Assad’s government was behind the gas attack were “a provocation”.
A UN expert team has completed a survey of the area affected by the August 21 incident, but has not yet presented its results. The US says that it has a “high confidence” in its assertion that government forces were to blame for the toxic gas release, based on intelligence reports, video clips and eyewitness accounts.
“History would judge us extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency,” said Obama.
But the US leader insisted that the operation against “thug and murderer” Assad would not be “open-ended” and wouldn’t involve “boots on the ground”.
“I know well that we are weary of war. We ended a war in Iraq, we are ending another in Afghanistan.”
“That’s why we are not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.”
The Syrian government, which says that the opposition, who have fought a 30-month long rebellion, are behind the attack, has asserted that it has “its finger on the trigger to face any challenge or scenario they [the US] want to carry out.”
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