Obama puts Syria strike on hold, opposition 'disappointed'

Obama puts Syria strike on hold, opposition 'disappointed'
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team to discuss the situation in Egypt.

DAMASCUS - Syria's opposition expressed disappointment Sunday that President Barack Obama had put on hold military action against the Damascus regime, but said it was confident US lawmakers would green-light a strike.

To general surprise, the US leader on Saturday broke with decades of precedent to announce that he would seek approval from Congress for action against Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.

This effectively pushed military action back until at least September 9, when US lawmakers return from their summer recess.

Obama insisted that he reserves the right to strike regardless of Congress's decision, and a White House official said the pause would also allow him time to build international support.

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

Nashar said the coalition was confident that Arab foreign ministers who meet Sunday in Cairo would give "very strong support" to US-led military action.

"The coalition will get in touch with Arab countries and Turkey so that they cooperate as much as possible with the United States," he said.

"We will try to push these countries to take part in the military operation, which will greatly alleviate the suffering of Syrians."

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