WASHINGTON (21Alive) - President Obama outlined his case Tuesday night for a future strike against Syria as negotiations to end the Middle Eastern nation's chemical weapons program continue halfway across the world.
In a primetime address, the president says overwhelming evidence found since Aug. 21 convinced him a targeted air strike was necessary in Syria.
"Assad's government gassed to death over 1,000 people, including hundreds of children," the president says. "The images from this massacre are sickening: men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk."
However, the president says he would allow Congress to decide if military force would be used at a later date.
"Even though I possessed the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress," he says. "I believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of Congress, and I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together."
Earlier Tuesday, the president went to Capitol Hill to request Congress delay a vote on use of force as Russia has committed to broker a deal that would bring the dismantle Assad's chemical weapons under international guidelines. The president says the United States will seek further diplomatic channels through the State Department and the United Nations to help resolve this crisis peacefully.
"I'm sending Secretary of State John Kerry to met his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I've spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom. And we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control," the president says.
Still, the president's tone suggested the United States is prepared, if necessary, to attack Syria in limited faction.
"I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad's capabilities," the president contrasts himself to his predecessors.
President Obama says President Assad's use of chemical weapons not only violates international law, but threatens U.S. Security.
"America is not the world's policeman," the president adds. "But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional."
In the meantime, talks continue on the proposed deal and no timetable has been set on a possible congressional vote.
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