US Senate revises Syria resolution, bars ground troops

    By IANS,

    Washington : The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reached an agreement on a revised resolution authorising military action in Syria, setting a time limit and barring US ground troops in the war-torn country.

    The draft, agreed Tuesday by the committee’s chairman Robert Menendez and Republican ranking member Bob Corker, sets a time limit of 60 days on US military action in Syria with the option for a single 30-day extension.

    The resolution also states that no US troops would be deployed for combat operations in Syria, reports Xinhua.

    Menendez said the committee could hold a vote on the resolution Wednesday.

    “With this agreement, we are a step closer to granting the president authority to act in our national security interest,” he said.

    The draft will replace the one introduced by the Obama administration over the weekend to seek congressional approval for launching a limited military strike against Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons outside Damascus Aug 21.

    Washington has held the Syrian government responsible for perpetrating the attack which, according to US intelligence, claimed 1,429 lives, including 426 children.

    The Obama administration is gearing up for its campaign to persuade lawmakers to support its military action in Syria, citing the need to deter the Syrian government from further using chemical weapons, and other rogue countries from using weapons of mass destruction.

    Some lawmakers have complained that the language of the Obama administration’s original resolution authorising use of force against Syria was too broad and could lead to the US’s involvement in an open-ended conflict.

    Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Tuesday made the case for a military strike against Syria, insisting that inaction would undermine US credibility and endangering its allies in the region, such as Israel and Turkey.

    “This is not the time for armchair isolationism… We have spoken up against unspeakable horror. Now we must stand up and act,” Kerry told the lawmakers.

    The possibility of having US “boots on the ground” in Syria was a major element of the hearing, after Kerry briefly suggested a scenario in which US troops might have to keep chemical weapons out of the hands of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups.

    But Kerry quickly backtracked and said he wanted to be “crystal clear” the administration would agree to revising the Syria resolution so that US troops have “no capacity” in Syria’s civil war.