A key U.S. Senate panel has voted in favor of a possible military strike against Syria.
The Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to 7 Wednesday to give President Barack Obama the authority to take military action against Syria for using chemical weapons on civilians.
The Senate resolution calls for limited action lasting no more than 90 days. It says no U.S. soldier would be put on the ground - an assurance to lawmakers who do not want the United States to become embroiled in another war.
The measure now goes to the full Senate. The House of Representatives must also vote on it.
Before the vote, Mr. Obama said in Stockholm that the international community's credibility is at stake if nothing is done about Syria..
The president said he did not set a "red line" in Syria but that the world did when it outlawed poison gas after World War One.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Syrian situation is unpredictable, complicated, and dangerous and that there is no guarantee about the outcome.
But he said Syria's weapons are a serious threat to America's national interests and a grave risk to its allies in the region. He also said he is concerned that Hezbollah, the terrorist group that backs the Assad regime, can get its hands on such weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday the U.S. Congress would be sanctioning "aggression" by approving the use of force against Syria. Mr. Putin also said Secretary of State John Kerry lied when he said the Syrian opposition had not become more infiltrated by al-Qaida.
However, the Kremlin leader said he might support a U.N. authorization of military force against Syria, if there is what he called "convincing" proof that Syrian forces used chemical weapons against civilians.
Syria denies using chemical weapons, and charges that any poison gas was used by rebels against Syrian troops.
President Barack Obama:
"I do think we have to act, because if we do not, we are effectively saying that even though we may condemn it and issue resolutions and so forth and so on, somebody who is not shamed by resolutions can continue to act with impunity. And those international norms begin to erode, and other despots and authoritarian regimes can start looking and saying, 'That's something we can get away with.'"