Syrian opposition disappointed by Obama's decision to seek approval for military strike

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 September, 2013, 5:24am

Syria's main opposition bloc said yesterday it was disappointed with Barack Obama's decision to seek approval from Congress for action against the regime, but said it believed lawmakers would approve a strike.

Mirroring US policy, France will wait for its parliament to consider possible military action against Syria before President Francois Hollande decides whether to launch strikes, his office said on Saturday.

Samir Nashar, a top official at the Syrian National Coalition, said they "were expecting things to be quicker, that a strike would be imminent ... But we believe Congress will approve a strike."

In Syria, state-run newspaper Al-Thawra described Obama's decision as "the start of the historical American retreat".

In a front-page editorial on Sunday, it said Obama's reluctance to carry out strikes against Syria stems from his "sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies." France, under Hollande's Socialists, has been the most vocal and visible country to show willingness to join the US in military action against Syria.

Obama explained his decision to Hollande in a phone call, said the French president's office. Officials in Paris said France was ready to strike once Hollande gave the order, but he had not yet made a decision.

Jordan, where several hundred US military personnel, as well as jet fighters and anti-missile batteries are deployed to bolster the security of the close US ally, said diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before Washington opts for military action.

In Washington, as Obama addressed the nation, crowds of anti-war demonstrators gathered outside the White House.

Protesters in London hailed Thursday's UK parliament vote against British participation as a victory. A crowd of more than 1,000 protesters, carrying Syrian flags and placards, held a rally in the capital on Saturday.

Additional reporting by Associated Press