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Obama Pushes for Congressional Support of Syria Strike

U.S. President Barack Obama is continuing his push for congressional support of U.S. military action in Syria, as some lawmakers express their doubts about his plan and Russia questions the evidence behind it.

Mr. Obama is hosting a meeting Monday at the White House with prominent Senator John McCain, who has long been urging the president to take forceful action against Syria. McCain said Sunday the U.S. should go beyond limited air strikes to include the threat of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

Some members of Congress have taken the opposite view, questioning whether the military should be involved at all.

U.S. officials briefed some lawmakers Sunday on intelligence showing the Syrian military dropped poison gas on civilians outside Damascus last month, killing more than 1,000 people.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday the evidence provided by the United States has not been convincing, lacking geographic coordinates and names surrounding the chemical attack.

Lavrov also said if officials ask the U.S. for more details, the response has been that such information is classified and cannot be shared.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said Monday the U.S. has also briefed Chinese officials on the intelligence, and that China expressed concerns about any planning for unilateral military action.

United Nations chemical weapons inspectors visited attack sites near Damascus last week, where they collected samples that are being transferred Monday to labs for analysis. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will share the results with all member states.

The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons and says the rebels have used poison gas against Syrian troops.

Its state-run SANA news agency said Monday that Syrian ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja'afari has sent a letter urging Mr. Ban to "assume his responsibilities" and "prevent any aggression" against Syria.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad says Mr. Obama's decision to seek approval from Congress shows he is hesitant and confused.

Arab League foreign ministers also discussed the situation Sunday, ending their meeting calling on the world to take what they called the "necessary deterrent" steps against Syria. A resolution issued after the meeting calls those responsible for the chemical weapons strike "war criminals."

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