US Senate panel passes vote authorizing use of military force in Syria

5th Sep 2013

A US Senate panel has authorized the use of military force in Syria, paving the way for a full Senate vote next week. The resolution was passed by a 10-7 vote with one senator abstaining as “present.”

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor on Wednesday of President Barack Obama’s plan to launch military action in Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack. The amended resolution authorizes US military intervention with a 90-day deadline and bars US forces on the ground in Syria.

The Senate panel’s backing sets the stage for a full senate vote expected to take place next week. The House of Representatives will then vote on the resolution, after Congress reconvenes from summer recess on Monday.

Senator Robert Menendez, the committee’s chairman, said the bipartisan resolution marks “a good foundation” for passing the Senate.
Before approving the resolution, panel members voted for amendments to more clearly define the military activity being authorized. Republican Senator John McCain pushed for the measure to address efforts to change the “momentum” on the battlefield in Syria.
Obama is seeking international and domestic support for US-led military intervention in Syria. On Tuesday evening he received backing from rival Republicans and he has indicated he is willing to act in the absence of UN Security Council approval.

The US accuses the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21. It claims that 1,429 people were killed in the incident.

Obama calls for action

Earlier, Obama told a press conference in Sweden the international community had a duty to uphold a ban on the use of chemical weapons, ratified by countries around the world.

“My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line,” Obama said, speaking alongside Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

“America and Congress’ credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important,” Obama added. The president had previously described the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a “red line.”

France remains the only other permanent member of the UN Security Council to express its willingness to take part in a US-led intervention. It opened a parliamentary debate into the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

Russia remains opposed to the US taking unilateral action on Syria and has repeatedly used veto power to block action against Assad’s regime.

In an interview with Russian state television on Wednesday ahead of the G-20 summit outside St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin, for the first time, said he would not rule out support for an intervention if there was unequivocal evidence that Damascus had used chemical weapons.

ccp,hc/ph (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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