4 Sep 2013

Senators back Obama's plan for US action against Syria

3:08 pm on 4 September 2013

Senators in the United States have agreed on a draft resolution that would authorise the use of military force in Syria.

The measure, to be formally voted on next week, would allow the President Barack Obama to use "limited and tailored" military action to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and degrade its president's ability to use them.

The draft document bars the use of any US ground forces in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US had to act after the Assad regime's "undeniable" chemical weapons attack which the US government says killed 1429 people.

"This is not the time for armchair isolationism," Mr Kerry said. "This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.''

The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, endorsed Mr Obama's call for military action.

Mr Obama told congressional leaders the US has a broad plan to help rebels defeat Syrian Government forces, and he urged quick action from Congress.

Following the meeting the top two Republicans in the House of Representative, Mr Boehner and Eric Cantor, along with top Democrat Nancy Pelosi said they would back military action.

"Only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behaviour is not going to be tolerated," Mr Boehner told reporters.

Concerns about US intervention

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has warned a military response against Syria could unleash more turmoil.

He says if it proved that chemical weapons were used, the UN Security Council must unite and take action, but he says the use of force is only legal with the council's approval or in self defence.

A BBC correspondent in Washington says Mr Obama still faces a tough task winning the support of the American people.

She says the latest national opinion poll shows public opposition to any involvement in the Syrian conflict is growing, with six out of 10 Americans against missile strikes.