The US has built a humanitarian and legal case for military action against Syria, rooted in the proposition that an “undeniable” chemical attack had shattered international codes of war. US rhetoric, led by an emotional indictment of Syria by Secretary of State John Kerry, is suddenly hawkish: a remarkable turn, since the White House has spent months trying to halt a slide into another Middle Eastern war. There was a growing sense in Washington that the clock was relentlessly ticking down towards US strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime: the only questions were when and how. US President Barack Obama has the authority to launch air strikes against Syria. But he has to notify lawmakers in Congress — a process which has begun, according to both sides.
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