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Obama Asks Congress for $500 Million to Arm and Train Syrian Militants

President Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to arm and train "moderate" rebels in Syria.

An Obama national security aide said the $500 million should be used to help Syrian rebels topple Assad, while at the same time defeating militants who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

“As we have said many times before, Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule Syria and must go,” Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman, told McClatchy. “The request to Congress reflects our assessment of the time needed to launch such a program and our view that building the capacity of Syrians for stabilization and counterterrorism operations will be necessary both during the (current) conflict and after a negotiated settlement.”

This is just throwing money down the drain. [More...]

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President Obama's Syria Address

President Obama is about to address the nation on Syria. Here's a thread to discuss.

Update: Shorter version is Obama is asking Congress to delay a vote.

Obama lays out the evidence Assad's regime used chemical weapons. He says if we don't act, Assad will not hesitate to do it again. Other dictators will try to obtain chemical weapons, as will terrorist groups. Turkey Jordan and Israel are at risk.

He determined in the national security interest of the U.S. to respond by a targeted military strike. He knows it won't be popular, after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The purpose is deterring and degrading Assad's chemical capability.

Even though he has the authority to order the strike himself, he took the debate to Congress. [More...]

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Senate Syria Compromise: Foreign Relations Comm. to Vote

The leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee have agreed on a compromise Syria resolution. (Full text here.) It's not quite what Obama wanted, but it is expected to go to a committee vote tomorrow.

The bill limits the authorization to 60 days, with an option for an additional 30-day deadline, and makes clear there would be no boots on the ground, the sources said.

More here. A new Reuters poll shows 56% of Americans opposed to an attack.

I'm not in favor of the strike. Seems like a hollow gesture and a slippery slope -- for us. Give our leaders an inch, and they'll find a way to go for the mile.

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Obama Asks Congress for Syria Strike Approval

President Obama today said he has asked Congress to vote on launching a strike on Syria when it returns Sept. 9. John Boehner says the vote will be the week of September 9.

Obama said he believes he has the authority to act without congressional approval, but asked lawmakers to weigh in and shoulder the responsibility for the decision.

“The country will be stronger if we take this course,” Obama said. “We should have this debate.”

Yesterday, Obama released this 4 page summary of a U.S. report detailing intelligence on the suspected use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on Aug. 21. [More...]

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US Plans Missile Attack on Syria

Here are some details of the planned military strike on Syria. The UK is expected to assist the U.S. Tomahawk missiles are likely.

The blitz may last 48 hours.

The missiles would be unleashed to destroy Syrian President Bashar Assad’s command and control facilities, weapons delivery centres, intelligence bases and military training camps.

A former Syrian military official who has since defected says chemical weapons stockpiles are unlikely to be targeted. [More...]

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Israel Airstrikes in Syria

Israel has not yet officially confirmed the news, but everyone else, from the BBC to Al Jazeera to the New York Times, is reporting that Israel launched an airstrike in Syria. An Israeli spokesman says:

“Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, specially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

U.S. officials on the other hand say:

US officials say the Israeli air strike happened overnight Thursday into Friday, but the aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace. [More...]

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U.S. Embassy Closed in Syria, All Employees Leave

The State Department issued a notice today that the U.S. Embassy in Syria has closed and all employees have left the country.

The recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our Embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack. We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian Government but the regime failed to respond adequately.

The violence in Syria continues to escalate.

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