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Obama ready to attack Syria, seeks Congress nod

US president Barack Obama said on Saturday said he was ready to use military action against Syria for using chemical weapons but he is asking congress to authorise it. Yashwant Raj reports.

world Updated: Sep 01, 2013 09:41 IST
syria,barack obama,chemical weapons

US president Barack Obama said on Saturday said he was ready to use military action against Syria for using chemical weapons but he is asking congress to authorise it.

Congress is not in session now, and there are no plans to convene it urgently. It will resume on September 9, which is when it will debate Obama’s proposal and vote on it.

The president said he could afford to wait for congressional authorisation because the military has assured him the attack plan in place was “not time-specific”.

Lawmakers from both parties have been demanding greater congressional say in the punitive strike that the Obama administration has looked determined to pursue in recent days.

“I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in congress,” Obama said in a short statement he read out from the White House.

But he ignored a question shouted out by a reporter on what will be done if congress were to turn him down, which is a concern after what happened in Britain.

Prime minister David Cameron failed to get his parliament’s approval for military action against Syria, after agreeing with Obama on the need for it.

As of today, Obama has only the French by his side. The US has said the Syrian government used chemical weapons at 12 locations outside the capital Damascus in the early hours of August 21, killing 1,429 people, including 426 children.

Obama said those responsible will be held accountable.

“This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope.”

Though there are no details available of the attack plan, reports in US media suggest the use of Tomahawk cruise missiles from warships moved into the region over past few days.

Explaining his reasons for seeking congressional approval, the president said, “I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Highlights from Obama's speech:

• I'm ready to act and I hope the People's Representatives will agree: US President Barack Obama

• Ultimately this is not about who occupies this office at one point of time, it is about who we are as people: US President Barack Obama

• We are the United States of America and we cannot overlook what happened in Damascus: US President Barack Obama

• I'm aware we've been involved in many wars, we can't find a solution of the situation in Syria militarily: US President Barack Obama

• The implications are much more than chemical warfare: US President Barack Obama

• What message will we send if a leader will gas hundreds of children to death and yet go unaccountable: US President Barack Obama

• I'm sure we'll be able to hold Assad accountable for the Syrian chemical attacks: US President Barack Obama

• The Congress will go to vote as soon as the Congress comes to session next: US President Barack Obama

• But, we are democracy. So, I will seek authorisation from American poeple's representatives in Congress: US President Barack Obama

• We are prepared to strike anyday, it is not necessary when: US President Barack Obama

• The US government has decided that our intervention is important in Syria: US President Barack Obama

• Our intelligence shows the Syrian govt preparing chemical weapons & accepting the use of chemical weapons: US President Barack Obama

First Published: Aug 31, 2013 23:41 IST