Syrian families undergo security checks as they cross the Masnaa border post between Syria and Lebanon on Saturday in the Lebanese eastern Bekaa valley.
(Photo: Anwar Amro, AFP/Getty Images)
AMMAN, Jordan (USA Today) - Saying military invention is needed now, Syrian rebels expressed disappointment after President Obama announced Saturday he would seek congressional approval for military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
"Military intervention is in the interest of the Syrian people - we need this to solve the Syrian crisis," said Col. Abdulbasit Sa'ad al-Dein, a Free Syrian Army leader based in Aleppo, Syria. "We need direct strikes on significant regime targets such as military installations ... to save civilian lives."
In a news conference Saturday, Obama said congressional leaders have agreed to schedule a debate and vote on taking military action in Syria when they return to session. They are scheduled to return from their summer recess on Sept. 9.
Analysts, however, say that the impact of American military intervention would be far less significant than the Syrian opposition wants.
"The aim is not regime change, at taking Assad out of the game or killing him," said security analyst Henning Riecke of the German Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in Berlin. "I think it will have this limited effect, not more, because they don't want to be part of the civil war or the opposition."
A French presidential official told the Associated Press that President Francois Hollande will wait for discussions in Congress and the French parliament -which was already planning to meet Wednesday - before taking military action. Hollande spoke with Obama on Saturday. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to presidential policy. Hollande does not need parliament's permission to intervene militarily.
The call for military action follows an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus two weeks ago that White House officials say killed 1,400 people including hundreds of children. Overall, the Syrian conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and forced almost 2 million to flee the country since it began in early 2011.
"The attack was an assault on human dignity," Obama said Saturday. "It also presents a serious danger to our national security."
The president did not say what he would do if Congress rejects military intervention.