News / USA

US Senate Panel Approves Plan for Syria Strike

Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Ron Johnson listen on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2013, during the committee's hearing to consider the authorization for use of military force in Syria.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Ron Johnson listen on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2013, during the committee's hearing to consider the authorization for use of military force in Syria.
VOA News
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a resolution giving U.S. President Barack Obama authority to take military action against Syria over its use of chemical weapons on civilians.

The measure will go to the full Senate next week, and must pass there, as well as in the House of Representatives, where it could meet stiff resistance from Republican Party lawmakers.

The 10-7 committee vote came Wednesday as Obama's top foreign policy and defense advisers testified for a second day in Congress, trying to persuade doubtful lawmakers to approve the president's plan for a strike against Syria's military capabilities.

Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2013, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2013, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
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Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2013, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2013, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Secretary of State John Kerry spent much of the afternoon speaking to a House of Representatives committee.

"As we debate, the world is watching and the world is wondering, not whether Assad's regime actually did this," Kerry said.  "The world is wondering whether the United States of America is going to consent through silence to stand aside while this kind of brutality is allowed to happen without consequence."

The Senate committee approved a plan that would give Obama authority to order limited strikes against Syrian military targets for 60 days.  He could extend the window by another 30 days under certain conditions.

The resolution does not authorize the use of ground troops.  It states military action must be aimed at deterring and preventing Syria from carrying out future chemical weapons attacks.

Obama says he is convinced that President Assad's government used chemical weapons on civilians in the attack on August 21, which killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.  

Syria denies using chemical weapons, alleging it was the rebels who deployed them.

Congressional leaders have expressed support for action against Syria, but others in Congress remain wary of approving military force, as do most Americans, polls show.

Skeptical Europe

In Sweden Wednesday, Obama carried his case for action to the world. He said a failure to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Damascus would only increase the chance they would be used again.

President Barack Obama gestures during his joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sept. 4, 2013, at the Rosenbad Building in Stockholm, Sweden.President Barack Obama gestures during his joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sept. 4, 2013, at the Rosenbad Building in Stockholm, Sweden.
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President Barack Obama gestures during his joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sept. 4, 2013, at the Rosenbad Building in Stockholm, Sweden.
President Barack Obama gestures during his joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sept. 4, 2013, at the Rosenbad Building in Stockholm, Sweden.
Obama said the world had long ago determined that using chemical weapons could not be tolerated. Thus, he said, his own credibility is not at stake if there is no action against Syrian President Assad.   

“The international community's credibility is on the line,'' he said. “And America and Congress' credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”

The president acknowledged that many Europeans are hesitant to act militarily against Syria because of the incorrect allegations of chemical weapons that led to the war in Iraq.

“I’m not interested in repeating mistakes of us basing decisions on faulty intelligence, but having done a thorough evaluation of the information that is currently available, I can say with high confidence chemical weapons were used,” he said.

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Obama is visiting Sweden on his way to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. He is expected to continue to argue there for a military response to the chemical weapons attacks.

The Russian government is expected to resist that push. Moscow is one of Syria’s main allies and has resisted international efforts to push for a political solution to Syria’s civil war.

Putin's warning

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he "doesn't exclude" supporting a U.N. authorization of military force against Syria if there is proof the government there used chemical weapons.

But he warned the U.S. against taking action without U.N. approval.

"Only the U.N. Security Council could sanction the use of force against a sovereign state," Putin told the Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television network. "Any other pretext or method which might be used to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression."

Putin urged the U.S. to present "convincing" evidence about chemical weapons to the United Nations.

He said Russia has suspended the delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missile components to Syria, but would reconsider if steps are taken that "violate international norms."

U.N. urges political solution

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said any use of chemical weapons in Syria is an “outrageous war crime,” and he called on the Security Council to “unite and develop an appropriate response” to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, he said a political solution to the crisis in accordance with the U.N. Charter is the best way to proceed.  

U.N. experts are trying to determine whether chemical weapons were used in neighborhoods near Damascus, but there is no word yet when their report will be complete.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Wednesday met with officials from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, to call for more international aid for the two million Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war. The vast majority of them have crossed into Syria’s neighboring countries in the past 12 months, and the U.N. expects the numbers to continue to rise.

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by: Cranksy from: USA
September 05, 2013 12:39 PM
I wish American leaders would stop taking the moral high ground about Syria. Our country is the only country that has used the most massively destructive weapons, nuclear weapons. This is not to say there may not be important distinctions between combat behaviors.


by: Pat from: Sweden
September 04, 2013 11:33 PM
“Our negotiations have led to a much narrower authorization that provides for the appropriate use of force while limiting the scope and duration of military action, prohibiting boots on the ground, and requiring the Obama administration to submit their broader plan for Syria,” Corker said in a statement late Tuesday, according to the Times. Louis Fisher, scholar in residence at the Constitution Project and former long-time expert for the Congressional Research Service on separation of powers issues, doubts the resolution will impose significant limitation on Obama and the Pentagon.

“What could possibly be the meaning of ‘limited and tailored?’ I doubt if I’ve ever seen the word ‘tailored’ in a bill,” Fisher said. “Even if the ‘intent’ of Congress is a limited war, war has its own momentum.” The resolution is reminiscent of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution used by President Johnson to draw the United States into Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin incident is a notorious false flag incident, a fact underscored by an exhaustive history of American signals intelligence (SIGINT) in the Vietnam War that was declassified and released by the National Security Agency in 2008.


by: Dominic from: UK
September 04, 2013 11:32 PM
The National Review Online quotes Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona. Salmon said hundreds of constituents – with the exception of two – have called his office urging him to resist the move in Congress to vote in favor of attacking Syria. “I don’t see any national-security imperative for our country at all. Both sides in this equation are bad actors,” Salmon said. “Other than saving face for the president, I don’t understand what we would be doing,” he added.

Salmon also told the NRO few believe Obama’s strikes will be surgical. “Nobody believes this is going to be a couple surgical strikes,” he said dismissively.
The Arizona congressman said that he believes Obama will flaunt the will of Congress and attack Syria if Congress fails to issue an authorization. It will be a full-blown constitutional crisis if Obama overrides the will of Congress and would represent the “most significant flouting of separation of powers in this nation,” the congressman said.

Regardless of polls showing an overwhelming number of Americans opposing any military action against Syria, on Wednesday the Senate worked overtime to draft a resolution allowing Obama to strike the Arab nation under what the Washinton Times described as “very tight circumstances.” The resolution – drafted by Democrat Senator Robert Menendez and Republican counterpart Bob Corker of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – provides Obama with the ability to “use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria.”


by: Anonymous
September 04, 2013 8:05 PM
Not surprising at all how many of assad and russias media team is posting in here and on youtube to try and fool the world assad is a guy that didn't commit crimes before the chemical weapons came in to play. He crossed the red line 2 years ago dropping bombs in civilian neighborhoods. Assad must be charged for each and every murder in Syria that his men has killed. Anyone under his belt must be charged with such crimes as well.

In Response

by: Anonymous
September 04, 2013 9:59 PM
your saying is true


by: Anonymous
September 04, 2013 8:03 PM
I know the purpose of the congress meeting being televised is to show the Americans what is happening "In House" but in situations like these perhaps they shouldnt be televised. I understand the US Gov wants transparency in what their decision makers are doing but this can also aid assad on what their thoughts and ideas are.

Assad is guilty of heinous crimes. The west should arm the FSA to the maximum to prevent al qaeda from stealing assads seat once he is gone. The FSA needs to protect Syria and start to rebuild their nation. They also need to protect any stockpiles of chem weapons once assad is gone also, which is most important.

What should clearly be done is a case built on evidence to the International Criminal Court, and if proven that Russia or China was aiding assad with weapons to kill his own people then their vetos should not be counted. Reason being is this type of activity helping a nation cleanse their country of opposition could always be withheld from justice being served if there is an interested party in the UN Security Council that will Veto every time.

Russia and Chinas votes in the Security Council in the matter of Syria should be disolved or not used whatsoever as they are aiding assad and of course they will veto and allow him to continue murdering people of Syria.

Assads status should be upped to "Terrorist" status as he is bombing civilian areas doing nothing different than an actual terrorist. This would also open the door for a direct strike on assad wherever he is hiding in a rathole.

Just my two cents...

In Response

by: Doris Loadburp from: UK
September 04, 2013 9:14 PM
Don't you get it, you buffoon? The CIA runs, funds, and trains Al Qaeda, ALL ON RECORD, and the so-called gas attack originated in the USA, went through Saudi Arabia, right to the rebels who vow to annihilate the USA. DUH!!!


by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 04, 2013 4:24 PM
Interesting how Obama and the team talks about international credibility! How many countries he feels are behind the bombing or shelling he is going to start in Syria? If lot of countries are involved why not work on a show of support through UN? Seems like it really does not matter who the President of US is , it is all controlled by few in the senate and from industry. After the mess we created in Elsewhere in the middle east, why would we think this time around it will be different? This administration is so clueless that one wonders who are their advisors? Does our foreign policy rides on few of the senators like the MaCain and Gramm? Listening to Obama and Kerry o e cant ell the difference with GW Bush and Cheney. It is a scary feeling that we are run by such clueless administration. When are the republicans going to understand they dont always have to support war efforts in order to get re elected? When a majority of the country is against any sort of intervention, who are these politicians listening to? There is a total disconnect between the politicians and the people whom they were supposed to represent and serve.


by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
September 04, 2013 4:12 PM
I used to think that Obama was arrogant and obnoxious...now I realize that he is just the opposite... obnoxious and arrogant. Now it is the European communities credibility that is at stake. It is never Obama's credibility at stake or his fault for anything.

Heck, I thought that he had gone to Sweden to return the Nobel Prize that was handed him way before he deserved it. Now that was done with faulty intelligence!

In Response

by: Cranksy from: USA
September 05, 2013 1:11 PM
Hi Bearman, your remarks are clever and possibility based on knowledge I don't have. If they are based on an abiding dislike of President Obama, I don't share It.


by: Ursula from: Texas
September 04, 2013 3:49 PM
Apparently unfazed by the UK parliament’s historic “no” vote last week in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s request to attack Syria, Obama, bellicose members of Congress and a compliant lapdog media have been undeterred in their efforts to try to convince the American people chemical weapons used in Syria pose a serious threat to American interests, despite the fact no evidence has been produced directly implicating the Syrian government.


by: ali baba from: new york
September 04, 2013 3:36 PM
I did not care about international credibility . it is war ,we are going to be in debt to finance that war. lives would lost. we went to Iraq.4000 American lose their lives. we went in Lebanon and 240marine lose their lives. we went to Afghanistan and 1000 American lose their lives. how much money we spend ? this money can save social security from being broke. our debt will cause serious inflation a lot of people have no job. a lot of people lost their homes for foreclosed. is that worth it .It is unnecessary heavy burden Is American people to make favor to the terrorist organizations whom are fighting Bashar el Assad ??


by: Doris Loadburp from: UK
September 04, 2013 12:07 PM
Talking head, former cop and indefatigable cheerleader for Obama and the Democrat side of the one party political system, Chris Matthews, has declared Syrian babies and grandmothers must die to salvage Obama’s dismal political future. It should be obvious to all who bother to pay attention there is no difference between Obama, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, Barbara Boxer, et al, ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

All to varying degrees and with differing tact support the War Party and the apparently endless drive of the military-industrial complex to foment profitable wars and shake and bake the geopolitical chessboard to keep the game going for the bankers and their transnational corporate buddies. Because the political system is rigged like a game of three-card Monte and the antiwar movement is dead as a doornail, none of them have to worry about losing their cushy careers.

It’s Matthews’ job is to provide cover – no matter how feeble – for mass murder, even though hardly anybody tunes MSNBC in anymore except a few hundred thousand diehard “progressives” who are pathetically deluded into thinking military intervention in Syria is somehow humanitarian.

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