WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he's confident Congress will authorize a military strike in Syria, and he won the support of House Speaker John Boehner, who said acting against Syria was something "the United States as a country needs to do."
Boehner, Congress' top Republican, emerged from a White House meeting with Obama and told reporters the U.S. must respond to Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. Boehner said only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and warn others around the world that such actions will not be tolerated.
Obama's meeting with congressional leaders was part of his push to win over support for his request for authorization for limited military strikes against Assad. He indicated he is open to changing the language to address lawmakers' concerns, but urged them to hold a prompt vote.
French leader to await U.S. Congress vote on Syria
French President Francois Hollande says he's waiting for a decision from the U.S. Congress on possible military action in Syria and insists France won't strike against Assad's regime alone.
The French leader and Obama have been the two most outspoken world leaders on the need to respond to a suspected chemical weapons attack Aug. 21 near Damascus that killed hundreds of people.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday alongside Germany's president, Hollande said the U.S. vote sought by Obama about authorizing military action in Syria "will have consequences on the coalition that we will have to create."
McCain attaches strings to support of Obama's plan
Sen. John McCain says he will support Obama's request to intervene in Syria if the move would "reverse the situation on the battlefield."
McCain said on NBC's Today show that it isn't sufficient to merely send a strong message to Assad with a limited-range response. McCain says a resolution of intervention must include authority to degrade Syria's air defenses. The Arizona Republican says "it's an unfair fight" on the ground and that Assad has the upper hand.
McCain says if the authorization doesn't change the balance of power and give the rebels a fighting chance, then it "will not have the desired effect."
U.N. says Syria refugees top 2 million mark
The civil war in Syria has forced more than 2 million people out of the country, and more than 4 million others are displaced within its borders, making Syrians the nation with the largest number of people torn from their homes right now, U.N. officials said Tuesday.
If the conflict continues 3.5 million people Syrian refugees are expected by the end of the year, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.
Almost 5,000 citizens a day on average are flowing out of Syria — a country of some 23 million people — many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing, Guterres said. The number of refugees has surged by 1.8 million in just 12 months, up from almost 231,000 a year ago.