Syria crisis: Obama says world’s credibility on the line

obama-immigration-1Speaking in Sweden, he said the world should stick to its own ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons.

Mr Obama is trying to build support in the US for punitive military action against the Syrian government.

Congress will vote next week on whether to support his plans.

France – whose government has strongly advocated intervention – is holding an extraordinary debate in the National Assembly, though MPs will not vote on the matter as the president can mobilise the military without their backing.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said it was France’s duty to act and that ‘faced with barbarism, doing nothing is not an option’.

Inaction would ‘put peace and security in the entire region in danger’, he said, and ‘close the door on a political solution’ to the conflict.

The UK parliament voted last month against military intervention.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told the BBC that it would back intervention in neighbouring Syria if proof emerged that chemical weapons had been used.

But he said any strikes would have to be precise, and that Jordan itself would not be involved.

‘World’s red line’
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is accused of using chemical weapons against civilians on several occasions during the 30-month conflict, most recently on a large scale in an attack on 21 August on the outskirts of Damascus.

The US has put the death toll from that incident at 1,429 – though other countries and organisations have given lower figures – and says all the evidence implicates government forces.

President Assad has said such an attack would have been ‘illogical’ because UN chemical weapons experts were visiting Damascus at the time.

Mr Obama has said the evidence gives him ‘high confidence that Assad carried this out’ and that action must be taken to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again and degrade its ability to do so.

On Tuesday, senior members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations agreed a draft resolution on military action to go before Congress, specifying that any operation would be ‘limited and tailored’ and prohibit the use of ground forces.

The full committee may vote on the draft on Wednesday.

Mr Obama has won the support of key Congressional leaders, though influential Republican John McCain said there were ‘number of people who are unhappy’.

So far, only 21 senators have said they support or are likely to support the resolution, according to a tally by ABC News. Twelve have said they oppose or are likely to oppose the resolution, while 67 votes are undecided or unknown.

However those numbers are expected to shift as the language in the resolution changes, the White House and their congressional allies apply pressure, and lawmakers hear from their constituents.



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