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Obama gets senate signal to attack Syria

Obama gets senate signal to attack Syria
Highlights

As President Barack Obama took his case for a punitive military strike against Syria abroad, a divided Senate panel narrowly approved use of force...

  • Russia to highlight risks at UN nuclear watchdog meet
  • UN humanitarian chief Amos in Damascus for talks
  • Chemical weapons claim 'pretext' to hit Syria: Iran
  • S Korea raises possible Syria-North Korea weapons link

Washington (IANS): As President Barack Obama took his case for a punitive military strike against Syria abroad, a divided Senate panel narrowly approved use of force resolution, foreshadowing a tough fight in the Congress. The White House welcomed the compromise Senate Foreign Relations committee resolution that limits military action to 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension, and specifically prohibits the use of American ground troops. "America is stronger when the president and Congress work together," it declared commending the panel "for moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of our national security".

The White House also vowed to "continue to work with Congress to build on this bipartisan support for a military response that is narrowly tailored to enforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and sufficient to protect the national security interests of the United States of America".

But as the New York Times editorially pointed out the 10-7 vote with seven Democrats and three Republicans voting yes and five Republicans and two Democrats saying no, "showed there is no strong consensus yet on this critical question". While Obama administration officials cited by the Times expected the full Senate to vote next week, after Congress returns from recess Sep 9, "they did not think the House would act until the week after and were girding for a prolonged debate".

Russia said it would warn a meeting of the UN's atomic watchdog next week that any US military strikes in Syria could hit a nuclear research reactor there. "Russia will for sure raise this topic at the autumn session of the board of governors of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) opening on September 9 in Vienna," a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP. Russia warned on Wednesday that US military strikes in Syria could have "catastrophic" consequences for nuclear safety if they hits a research reactor in the suburbs of Damascus.UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos also arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday for talks with government officials, a UN source said. Amos's visit comes shortly after the United Nations announced that the number of Syrian refugees had passed the two million mark since the country's conflict began in March 2011.

Meanwhile, Syria’s main ally Iran has warned US of Interfering in the country’s civil war. With its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that the US and its allies are using the chemical weapon (allegation) as a pretext and are saying that they want to intervene for humanitarian reasons. Khamenei added that "The United States is wrong about Syria, and it is certain they will suffer… Just like in Iraq and Afghanistan". South Korea on the other hand linked the chemical attack in Syria with North Korea. South Korea's defence ministry on Thursday called for fresh attention to North Korean chemical weapons, suggesting such arms might have been traded between Pyongyang and Syria.

G20: Syria, Snowden to haunt the meet

St Petersburg/Washington (PTI): Influential world leaders on Thursday braced for a showdown at the G20 summit over an imminent US-led action against Syria, as President Barack Obama's plan to launch military strikes cleared the first hurdle with a key Senate committee narrowly approving it. Even the Snowden issue could be a cause of friction between the two top countries.

Tensions were evident even before Obama's arrival in St Petersburg to lobby world leaders to support for a planned military strike against Syria as the Pentagon had to clarify Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's assertion that Russia provided chemical weapons to Syria.Th Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Secretary of State John Kerry of lying about al-Qaeda's links to Syrian rebels.

Obama is among the leaders who have now arrived at the G20, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. While Syria is not officially on the G20 agenda, leaders were expected to discuss it on the sidelines. The annual summit of the G20 group of developed and developing nations is supposed to concentrate on the global economy.The US has alleged that the nerve agent sarin was used by the Bashar al-Assad regime on August 21.

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