Verne Strickland / September 1, 2013
Obama condemned Assad's regime, describing the alleged chemical attack as "an assault on human dignity" that "presents a serious danger to our national security." He had previously characterized the use of chemical weapons as a "red line" Assad should not be permitted to cross.
Obama pledged that any military involvement would be of "limited duration and scope."
"This would not be an open-ended intervention," he said. "We would not put boots on the ground."
Before revealing he would seek approval from Congress, the President made clear that "we are prepared to strike whenever we choose."
Strikes would be "effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now," Obama said, adding that he is "prepared to give that order."
And yet many rebel groups aligned with the opposition to Assad expressed dismay with the apparent postponement of military intervention. One rebel spokesman told NBC News: “President Obama is sending contradictory messages. He promised to help, and now promises delays.”
“If Congress votes against a military action,” the spokesman said, “it will mean the American people don’t want to help the Syrian people.”