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Obama waits for US Congress 'authorization' on strike vs. Syria

September 1, 2013 1:55am
US President Barack Obama said Saturday morning (PHL time) that he has decided to seek authorization from the US Congress on the use of military action on Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons on its own citizens.
Speaking from the Rose Garden of the White House, with Vice President Joseph Biden by his side, Obama said he spoke with all four top leaders of the US Congress who said they will schedule a debate and vote when they are back in session on September 9 (Sept. 10 in the PHL).

The U.S. House of Representatives will consider a measure on military action against Syria the week of Sept. 9, House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders said in a statement after President Barack Obama spoke on Saturday.
"In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th. This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people," the statement said.

"No boots on the ground"
Obama said mounting the strike that would be "limited in duration and not time-sensitive" and US forces are "prepared to strike whenever we chose."
He said the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons on its own people "endangers" the United States' friends in the Middle East, including Israel. 

Obama reiterated his earlier statement that the military action he has chosen to take will not involve "boots on the ground" or the sending of US troops to Syria.

Obama said he had decided he would go ahead and take military action on Syria but he believed it was important for American democracy to win the support of lawmakers.
The decision represents a significant gamble for Obama, who has an estranged relationship with lawmakers, especially Republicans, and he risks suffering the same fate as British Prime Minister David Cameron, who lost his own vote on authorizing military action in parliament.

David Cameron failed by 13 votes on Thursday to secure the support of his colleagues in the House of Commons for military strikes against Syria.

Obama's move would give people in Syria at least several days of breathing space. Syrians have been bracing themselves for military strikes from the US and its allies a few days now.

Repatriation of Filipinos from Syria

Mandatory repatriation of Filipinos from Syria has been underway.

On Friday, at least 14 more Filipinos returned home from strife-torn Syria, even as the government is working to repatriate another batch in the first week of September.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez said Saturday the second batch will include at least 43 Filipinos.
"This coming Sept. 6 meron tayong 43 na darating din. Pinaigting natin ang efforts i-repatriate ... Lumalala ang sitwasyon sa Syria," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.
In a separate news release, the DFA said the 14 Filipinos were scheduled to arrive from Syria Friday, after traveling to the Syrian-Lebanese border.
With the arrival of the 14, it said the total number of repatriates now stands at 4,567.
"As in previous batches, the group was fetched at the Masna’a border crossing and was assisted through immigration formalities and other procedures both at the border and at the airport by representatives of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut," it said.
The DFA also said the Philippine Embassy in Damascus is also processing the repatriation of 45 other OFWs.
Meanwhile, Hernandez reiterated his appeal to Filipinos still in Syria to seek immediate repatriation.
Filipinos wanting to avail of repatriation may call the Embassy in Damascus at 963-11-6132626, +963-96-8955057, +963-93-4957926, +963-99-2264145, +963-96-8953340, or +963-95-8903893.
As for the kin of Filipinos in Syria, they may also provide the DFA with information regarding their kin’s present location and contact details in Syria.
They can call the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) at (02) 834-3240 or 834-4583 or the DFA’s 24-hour Action Center at (02) 834-3333.  — with Reuters, Agence France-Presse/ELR, GMA News

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