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Obama continues push for Syria strike upon G20 return

- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 7, 2013

Days before Congress is set to vote on resolutions authorizing military strikes in Syria, President Obama on Saturday again set out to assure Americans that the nation will not become bogged down in another Middle East conflict.

"I know that the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. That's why we're not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else's war," Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. "But we are the United States of America. We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of Syria."

Mr. Obama's remarks come just hours after he returned from the G20 Summit in Russia, where he was unable to reach a consensus with other world leaders on what should be done in Syria.

The use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in the country's ongoing civil war has prompted criticism from around the world, but few nations are willing to act militarily.

Some countries, such as Russia, continue to actively obstruct any response by the world community by standing in the way of United Nations resolutions.

With a unified global response off the table, Mr. Obama wants the U.S. to take the lead and launch "limited" strikes designed to degrade Assad's chemical weapons capabilities.

Both the House and Senate this week are expected to vote on measures formally authorizing such strikes, though Mr. Obama on Friday wouldn't rule out action even if Congress doesn't grant approval.

But the president has made clear that congressional authorization is the preferable course, and the White House in recent days has begun an all-out push to build support.

Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and other top administration officials personally have been lobbying skeptical lawmakers, arguing that the Assad government cannot get away with murdering its own people.

The president also is tying the use of chemical weapons in Syria directly to American security at home.

"Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequence for their use of these weapons. All of which would pose a serious threat to our national security," Mr. Obama said. "That's why we can't ignore chemical weapons attacks like this one — even if they happen halfway around the world."

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