President Obama announced on Saturday that he will ask Congress for authorization to launch military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military in response to his alleged use of chemical weapons last week.
Obama reiterated that the United States has concluded that Assad’s forces gassed civilians and opposition fighters in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21 and said “this menace must be confronted.”
“The United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” Obama said, adding that while he believes he has the authority as Commander-in-Chief to order strikes, he “will seek authorization for the use of force” from Congress. Obama also outlined what the campaign would entail, saying that any U.S. military action in Syria would not be an open ended intervention but one that is meant to hold Assad accountable and to deter him and degrade his ability from using chemical weapons in the future.
The Obama administration released a unclassified summary of a U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) analysis released on Friday which found “with high confidence” that forces allied with Assad carried out the attack and that the possibility that rebels were responsible was “highly unlikely.”
“We cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military,” Obama said, adding that he will not be ordering U.S. troops “in the middle of someone else’s war.”
But, echoing comments from Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, Obama asked: “what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children and pay no price? … We are the United States of America. We cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus.”
The president also said that Congress will debate and vote on the authorization for force in Syria when it returns from the August recess. “I am ready to act in the face of this outrage,” he said. “Today I’m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation.”
“We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised,” the House GOP leadership said in response to Obama’s statement. “In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th.”