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Syria conflict: At least 93,000 killed, says UN


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Guest howyousawtheworld
I bet Cameron is rueing the decision to bring Parliament back into session, although he would never say it. A knee-jerk reaction.


Yep. I think he was pretty confident he would be getting the backing of Labour which was naive because Miliband craftily turned the tables this afternoon. One thing's for sure - any more chemical attacks by Assad and it's a shot in the heart to every MP who voted against the motion.

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirms there will be no British intervention in <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Syria&src=hash">#Syria</a> <a href="http://t.co/egu82aS9pq">http://t.co/egu82aS9pq</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BBCNewsnight&src=hash">#BBCNewsnight</a></p>— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) <a href="https://twitter.com/BBCBreaking/statuses/373205314268823552">August 29, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Philip Hammond says the US "will be disappointed that Britain will not be involved" in any military strike. "I don't expect that the lack of British participation will stop any action," he adds. "I hoped we would carry the argument but we understand there is a deep well of suspicion about involvement in the Middle East," he said.

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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeYDhMmVLXI]President Obama Speaks on Syria - YouTube[/ame]


Syria crisis: Obama delay could 'embolden' Assad


US President Barack Obama's decision to delay possible military action in Syria while it is debated by Congress could "embolden" the forces of President Assad, an opposition group says.


Syrian National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi called the decision a "failure of leadership" by the US. Government forces resumed shelling of opposition held parts of Damascus as Mr Obama finished speaking on Saturday.


Syria denies US charges that its army used chemical weapons in August. The US says 1,429 people were killed in chemical attacks by the Syrian army on 21 August. The US president had said that such attacks would be a "red line", prompting US intervention in Syria.


On Saturday, Mr Obama said any action would be limited, ruling out a ground invasion, but he has sent the US Congress draft legislation seeking approval for the use of force as he "determines to be necessary and appropriate" to prevent the Syrian government from carrying out chemical weapons attacks.


Congress is due to reconvene on 9 September, meaning any military operation would not happen until then. The BBC's Jeremy Bowen in the Syrian capital, Damascus, says there is some relief in the city among those who feared that US attacks could start this weekend.


He says the delay could give the government time to move some sensitive military equipment. The shelling of opposition-held areas of the city late on Saturday was a possible act of defiance by the army, our correspondent says.


Mr Safi, spokesman for the main opposition grouping, said he was disappointed with Mr Obama's announcement. "Our fear now is that the lack of action could embolden the regime and they repeat his attacks in a more serious way," he told CNN.


Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said: "If the US has postponed its decision, or retreated... this invites ridicule from all sides," according to CBS.


In a statement at the White House on Saturday, President Obama said he felt it was important to have a debate about intervention in Syria. "I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that's why... I will seek authorisation for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress," he said.


Later on Saturday, Mr Obama sent a "draft legislation" to the two Congress leaders - the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate. The legislation says the objective of a US military response would be to "deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade'' the Syrian government's ability to use chemical weapons.


Senior White House officials told the BBC that Mr Obama's decision to seek congressional approval was made by the president on Friday afternoon. It had not been planned until then. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said the chamber "will engage in this critical debate right away", pledging the vote on the proposal would take place no later than the week of 9 September.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is a Republican, also welcomed the move, saying the president's role as commander-in-chief was "always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress".


But Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been pushing for US intervention in Syria, warned against limited strikes which would not change the balance of the conflict, calling the prospect "an inadequate response".


In the House of Representatives, Republican Speaker John Boehner and other party members praised Mr Obama's decision "in response to serious, substantive questions being raised".


Discussion of the issue is expected to kick off on Tuesday with a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The BBC's Katy Watson in Washington says it is unclear is what action he would take if Congress votes against involvement. The president's decision to turn to Congress was seen as a direct reaction to the UK government's defeat in Parliament on supporting any military action in Syria if it were backed by evidence from UN inspectors.


After the White House announcement, UK Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "I understand and support Barack Obama's position". Mr Obama did not speak to Mr Cameron before his statement but did call President Hollande, the White House said.


France has also backed military action, and its parliament is due to reconvene next week. Mr Hollande will wait for discussions in the US Congress and French parliament before making a decision on military intervention, a French official told the Associated Press.


Earlier on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged the US to present to the UN evidence that Syria had attacked rebels with chemical weapons. Mr Putin said it would be "utter nonsense" for Syria's government to provoke opponents with such attacks.


Russia - a key ally of Syria - has previously warned that "any unilateral military action bypassing the UN Security Council" would be a "direct violation of international law".


Moscow, along with China, has vetoed two previous draft resolutions on Syria.





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