News / Middle East

US Lawmakers Weigh Attack on Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sept. 3, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sept. 3, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
VOA News
A key Senate committee could vote as early as Wednesday on a measure authorizing U.S. military action in Syria

Leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee agreed late Tuesday on details of the plan that would give President Barack 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 would 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.

The measure would also require Obama to present a strategy for bringing a political resolution to the Syrian crisis.

The authorization must clear the committee and gain approval in the full Senate and House of Representatives before taking effect.  

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Foreign Relations Committee he has no doubt that U.S. inaction on Syria would lead to a greater war and more use of chemical weapons.

He said it is beyond any reasonable doubt that President Bashar al-Assad's government used chemical weapons on civilians in the attack last month that killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.  He said there is solid evidence the Syrian military carefully prepared for the attack.

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

Russia urges U.S. to show more evidence

Russian officials have said they are not convinced by evidence the United States has shared so far.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Russian Parliament speakers at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Sept. 2, 2013.Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Russian Parliament speakers at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Sept. 2, 2013.
x
Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Russian Parliament speakers at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Sept. 2, 2013.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Russian Parliament speakers at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Sept. 2, 2013.
In an interview with the Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the U.S. should present "convincing" evidence to the United Nations.  He said he "doesn't exclude" supporting a U.N. authorization of force against Syria if there is such proof, but 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 said. "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."

Russia is hosting the upcoming G20 summit in St. Petersburg, where Syria is certain to top the agenda during sessions beginning on Thursday

Obama left Washington Tuesday evening. He is stopping in Stockholm for a one-day visit before flying on to Russia.

Key US lawmakers express support

In Washington, top lawmakers from both major U.S. political parties who met with President Obama Tuesday morning said they support his plan for a strike against Syria.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) left, talks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders, Sept. 3, 2013.Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) left, talks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders, Sept. 3, 2013.
x
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) left, talks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders, Sept. 3, 2013.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) left, talks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders, Sept. 3, 2013.
The Republican Party leader in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, has opposed Obama on many issues in the past, but said this is a different  matter.

"We have enemies around the world that need to understand we are not going to tolerate this type of behavior," Boehner said, and he called on other members of his party to pledge their support.

Nancy Pelosi, who leads Obama's Democratic Party in the House, said Assad's tactics have taken Syria outside "the circle of civilized behavior," so the United States must respond.

Others in Congress remain leery of approving military force.

U.N. urges political solution in Syria

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about the Syria conflict during a news conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 3, 2013.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about the Syria conflict during a news conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 3, 2013.
x
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about the Syria conflict during a news conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 3, 2013.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about the Syria conflict during a news conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 3, 2013.
At the 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. He cautioned that any use of force to punish those responsible for the chemical attack would not be legal without U.N. authorization.

“This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria," Ban said. "This is about our collective responsibility to humankind.”

The U.N. has experts working nonstop trying to determine whether chemical weapons were used on August 21 in neighborhoods near Damascus, but there is no word yet when their report will be complete.

If the United States launches missile attacks on Syria in retaliation for its suspected use of the nerve agent sarin against anti-government rebels, it will be just the latest in a long series of U.S. foreign military operations. What is unusual is that President Barack Obama is seeking congressional approval ahead of the attack.

US has long history of overseas military operations 

VOA reporter Ken Bredemeier says previous U.S. presidents have gone to Congress for declarations of war after the country was directly attacked, such as by Japan at the start of World War II. 

But more often, American presidents have acted on their own, using their authority as the constitutionally designated commander-in-chief. In such cases they have acted without advance approval to send troops abroad, engage in bombing attacks, or dispatch U.S. military personnel to work with international allies.

By some counts, the U.S. has been involved in more than 50 significant military actions in the last half-century - an average of more than one a year - ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama.

Chris Hannas and Sam Verma contributed to this report from Washington

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shah Dil Awan from: Islamabad
September 05, 2013 5:24 AM
U.S.A Going to attack people all over the world thinking about statement of Obama that he have no need of permission from U.N.O what U.N.O stand for dictatorship???? I accept Syrian President killing innocent people but USA going to kill also can no other solution with out bullet???? FMUrdu .com publish a story on this issue must read may you understand the real mishap http://www.fmurdu.com/world/u-s-politics/1656-usa-ready-to-attack-on-syria-islamic-world-restless


by: Andrew
September 04, 2013 3:35 PM
Shameless warmongers.


by: nik from: US
September 04, 2013 9:25 AM
Putin warms US not to attack Assad's regime while Russia itself continues to providing weapons, and have troops on the ground along with Iran assisting Assad coordinate attacks on Syrian people. Assad and the Iraqi govt. are Iran's fortification there is no question about it.

In Response

by: gig24
September 04, 2013 10:53 AM
You forgot to mention the evelst of all evils:The North Korean Officers,those who provided the WMD's. Putin has provided so far more military Hardware than necessary to completely whip out trhe FSA 37-times,So the AGende is much larger than You think. They will torpedo the UN with the abuse of their VETO Power,as part of their aggression war strategy.A war that Stalin initiated 1950 is now coming to a full bloom. Its not just Shia vs Sunny, it is the absolute force-continuation of Vietnam,the breach of armesticer with Korea.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid