BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama was awaiting a Congress vote on a draft resolution that asks for the authorization of a strike against Syria, while Damascus vowed to face down any external aggression just as internal ones it faced daily.
The draft resolution, to be debated and voted on in Congress when U.S. lawmakers return to session on Sept. 9 after a summer break, states that the objective of military strikes on Syria should be to "deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential" for future use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.
Obama said though he has decided to act militarily against Syria government targets, the operation will not be "an open-ended intervention" and will not involve "boots on the ground."
"Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope," he added.
Senior U.S. government officials on Sunday held a classified briefing on Syria with a group of high-ranking lawmakers in a bid to win their support.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra and several senators, including Democrats Tom Harkin, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, and Patrick Leahy, and Republican Senator Dan Coats, attended the briefing at the Capitol Hill.
The officials tried to convince the lawmakers on why the U.S. government needs to respond to the Syrian crisis, but the participants appeared "evenly divided" on whether to give Obama approval, according to Representative Janice Hahn, a California Democrat.
Most of the lawmakers seemed convinced that Syria had engaged in chemical warfare, but they were more concerned about the nature and usefulness of a response by force.
In another development, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on all five major U.S. TV news shows on Sunday morning to make the case of taking military action to enforce the international norm of banning the use of mass destruction weapons and to protect the interests of U.S. partners and allies in the region, such as Israel and Turkey.
In what he called a "very important recent development," Kerry said hair and blood samples from first responders in East Damascus tested positive for sarin.
To lure support from other world countries, Obama is expected to bring the Syria issue to the Group of Twenty (G20) summit slated for Sept. 5-6 in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
"Obama will try to use the G20 summit to justify the attack on Syria. Whatever agenda the summit may have, Syria will be its focal point," Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, wrote in his Twitter account.
On the other side, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remained defiant, saying that his country is capable of confronting any external aggression.
Assad made the remarks during his meeting with visiting Chairman of the Iranian Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who arrived in Syria on Saturday.
"Syria is capable of confronting any foreign aggression as it confronts the daily attacks by the terrorist groups and those who stand behind them," Assad said.
While saying that Syria is achieving one victory after another until restoring security and stability to the homeland, Assad stressed that Washington's threats will not discourage Syria from commitment to its principles and firm stances, and from combating terrorism.
Meanwhile, Boroujerdi stressed Sunday his country's support to Syria due to its "stature in the axe of resistant," in reference to Iran, Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which refer to themselves as the axe of resistant against the Western and Israeli hegemony.
Boroujerdi warned that any war against Syria would have repercussions on the entire region.
Moreover, he advised the Americans not to "play with fire and to walk instead on the path of the political solution because this choice would protect the political credibility of America and would also be recorded as a positive point for Obama."
The international community showed no appetite for joining the United States in its possible war on Syria except France, whose leaders said they will go alongside the U.S. in the war.
France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday that his country will not launch a military operation alone against Syria and will await the U.S. Congress decision.
Martin Nesirky, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said Sunday that the work of the UN expert team fresh from investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria was "progressing well."
The team had been granted permission to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use at Syria's northern town of Khan al-Assal and two other sites, not named for security reasons.
Ban has briefed the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council on the team's progress and intended to speak soon with the 10 elected members of the council, said the spokesman.
The Arab foreign ministers convened an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday and held the Syrian government responsible for all the chemical attacks in Damascus.
"All the perpetrators should face fair international trials," they said in a resolution.
The foreign ministers called on the UN and the international society to bear its responsibility and take decisive and deterrent measures against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against the civilians.
In the meantime, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and other ships in the strike group were heading westward to the Red Sea to help support a limited U.S. strike on Syria, if needed, defense officials said Sunday.
Five U.S. Navy destroyers were in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a range of 1,000 nautical miles (1,852 kilometers) and can be used for precise targeting.
Russia said last Thursday it was sending two warships to the Mediterranean, but denied it was beefing up its naval force there as Western powers prepare for Syria strike.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the naval presence is to protect Russia's national security rather than a threat to any nation.
CAIRO, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Arab foreign ministers on Sunday urged the international community and the United Nations to take action against the Syrian government over alleged chemical attacks that killed hundreds of civilians.
The final resolution of an Arab League (AL) meeting in Cairo urged the United Nations and the international community to assume their responsibilities in line with the UN charter and the international law by "taking deterrent and necessary measures against the Syrian regime." Full story
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1(Xinhua) -- Senior U.S. government officials on Sunday held a classified briefing on Syria with a group of high-ranking lawmakers in a bid to win their support in pending Congressional vote on authorizing a military strike.
The officials who briefed the lawmakers included Tony Blinken, White House deputy national security adviser; Robert Cardillo, deputy director of national intelligence; Wendy Sherman, undersecretary for political affairs; James Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy; and Kurt Tidd, director of operations for joint staff at the Pentagon, the newspaper Politico reported on its website. Full story
DAMASCUS, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday that his country is capable of confronting any external aggression, in reference to a possible U.S.-led strike against his country, as Iran, his staunchest ally, pledged constant support to Damascus in face of escalating pressures.
Assad made the remarks during his meeting with visiting Chairman of the Iranian Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who arrived in Syria on Saturday. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama was in no mood to seek congressional blessing, and his administration once built up its case to a point in the past days that a military attack on Syria seemed impending.
However, the president announced on Saturday that he would obtain congressional approval before ordering military strikes on the Syrian government to punish its use of chemical weapons last week, a dramatic turnaround that is deemed a gamble. Full story