Sep 05, 2013

    Support grows for attack on Syria

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama won the backing of key figures in the United States Congress, including Republicans, in his call for limited strikes on Syria as Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a more conciliatory tone, saying Moscow would take "decisive" action if the West proved who used chemical weapons in Syria.

    Leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they reached an agree- ment on a draft authorisation for the use of military force in Syria, paving the way for a vote by the committee.

    However, the draft is much narrower than the request made by Mr Obama and includes a provision barring the use of US troops on the ground.

    Mr John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor both pledged their support for military action after a meeting with the President. Voting is expected to be held in the Senate and House next week.

    Meanwhile, Mr Putin, in an interview apparently aimed at presenting a more pragmatic face to the world ahead of the Group of 20 summit in St Petersburg, said he did not exclude Russia agreeing to US-led military strikes if it was proven that Syria's regime carried out the Aug 21 attack.

    If there was clear proof of what weapons were used and who used them, Russia "will be ready to act in the most decisive and serious way", Mr Putin said.

    France is also holding an emergency parliamentary debate on the Syrian crisis.