- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that, in order for Russia’s offer to help Syria transfer its chemical weapons to international control to succeed, “the threat of U.S. military action must continue to be very real and credible.”

“It was the president’s determination to hold [Syrian President Bashar] Assad accountable, and the fact that he put military action on the table, that enabled this new diplomatic track to maybe gain some momentum and credibility,” Mr. Hagel told the House Committee on Armed Services, urging lawmakers to authorize the use of force against the Syria regime. “The support of Congress for holding Assad accountable will give even more energy and urgency to these efforts.”

U.S. officials are “hopeful that this option could be a real solution to this crisis, yet we must be clear-eyed and ensure it is not a stalling tactic by Syria and its Russian patrons,” he said.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, testifying alongside Mr. Hagel, called it the “ultimate way to degrade and deter” the Syria regime’s chemical weapons capabilities.

The Obama administration aims to launch a punitive attack against the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels on Aug. 21.

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