WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's push for a military strike in Syria is gaining significant momentum today. Leaders of both parties in Congress say they're convinced that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, and that the U.S. should respond.
Obama met today with more than a dozen lawmakers in the White House Cabinet Room to push for what he said would be limited strikes aimed at dismantling Assad's chemical weapons capabilities.
Afterward, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that a military response is something the United States "needs to do." He said he would support Obama's call for action, and that he believes his colleagues should do so as well.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also said they will support Obama because the U.S. has a compelling national security interest in preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction.
But there is still opposition within both parties. A spokesman for Boehner says passage of a resolution supporting military action is an "uphill battle." Dozens of conservative Republicans and several liberal Democrats have come out against intervention.
Pelosi said Americans need to hear more of the intelligence on Syria in order to be convinced that a strike is necessary. She says she hopes they will become convinced.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that any "punitive" action taken against Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack last week could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in that nation's civil war. Ban also cautioned nations such as the United States and France that may be considering such strikes that they are legal only in self-defense under the U.N. Charter or if approved by the U.N. Security Council. Russia and China have used their veto power in the council multiple times to keep it from taking action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Meanwhile, 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 Bashar Assad's regime alone. The French leader and President Barack 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." Hollande added that if the Congress votes no, France "will take up its responsibilities by supporting the democratic opposition (in Syria) in such a way that a response is provided."