Topics: Barack Obama

Syrian dictator resumes attacks on rebels after Obama speech

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Barack Obama,President,United States,Syria,Chemical Weapons,Bashar Assad

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad resumed air strikes on the rebels attempting to overthrow his regime this morning after President Obama's speech last night postponing the vote on a military response to Assad's use of chemical weapons.

"Bashar Assad's air [force] started flying and attacking the rebels again today," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday. "There's nothing that will drive Syrians more into the hands of the extremists than to feel that they have been abandoned by the west, and that impression, I'm sure, has been made on them today."

Obama announced last night that he asked lawmakers to postpone a vote on authorization of military force in Syria after Russian President Vladimir Putin pounced on a gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry, who told a reporter that Assad could avoid suffering an attack from the United States if he agreed to surrender his chemical weapons. Putin quickly offered to broker the deal.

"I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control," Obama said Tuesday evening.

Obama was headed to a bruising defeat in Congress, though, as most outside whip counts showed bipartisan opposition to the strike.

Part of the president's difficulty in rallying support reflected a lack of trust in the Syrian rebels, who include terrorists among their ranks.

"In places like Syria, vetting can be unreliable and inconsistent," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the Washington Examiner's Byron York. "So far, the administration has not made a compelling case that it can differentiate between the factions, or that it even knows the makeup of the factions. The conclusions it has drawn as a result of its vetting are in stark contrast to the briefings I've received, and I remain concerned that a large part of these rebels pose a great threat to our interests."

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