- (Photo: Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
President Barack Obama is set to address the American people in a major speech on Tuesday with hopes to convince them that a military intervention in the Syrian crisis is needed.
"I want people to understand that gassing innocent people, delivering chemical weapons against children, is not something we do," Obama said at a press conference in Russia before leaving the G-20 Summit. "It's prohibited in active wars between countries. We certainly don't do it against kids."
Obama has been asking for Congressional support on a planned strike on the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who the U.S. is accusing of using chemical weapons on civilians in August and killing over 1,429 people, including more than 400 children.
The two-year Syria conflict between rebels and government forces has already caused over 100,000 casualties and forced close to 2 million people to flee the country as refugees, but the reported use of chemical weapons has crossed the "red line" Obama has previously warned Assad on.
"Obviously, my preference would be against to act internationally, in a serious way, and to make sure that Mr. Assad gets the message," Obama added on Friday. "I'm not itching for military action."
While key figures such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have backed the president in his plan to launch a strike on Syria, Fox News noted that as many as 300 lawmakers have already decided they will not side with a resolution that would authorize military intervention.
"The speaker has consistently said the president has an obligation to make his case for intervention directly to the American people," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck offered.
"Members of Congress represent the views of their constituents, and only a president can convince the public that military action is required. We only hope this isn't coming too late to make the difference."
Obama attended the G-20 summit in Russia earlier this week, though it was reported that leaders from the world's most powerful countries failed to come to a consensus on how the Syrian crisis should be handled.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that he does not believe the U.S. has firm evidence that Assad is behind the chemical attacks, and has warned that military action in the region without U.N. approval would count as "aggression."
BBC News noted that despite lengthy talks on Thursday between Russian and American officials, the two world powers were "no closer" to an agreement. Putin confirmed that he had had a one-on-one meeting with Obama, but the two failed to see eye to eye.
Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the U.S. released a joint statement on Friday following the G-20 meeting, strongly condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children. The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime," the world leaders wrote.
They noted that the U.N. Security Council remains "paralyzed" to act because of a lack of consensus, and warned that "the world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability."