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House leaders back Obama on Syria

WASHINGTON — The leaders of both parties in the House of Representatives emerged from a White House meeting Tuesday to support President Barack Obama’s call for American strikes against government forces in Syria’s civil war.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters that only the United States has “the capability and capacity” to respond to what Washington says was a poison gas attack by troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The use of chemical weapons is a barbarous act. It’s pretty clear to me that the United Nations is unable to take action; NATO, not likely to take action,” Boehner said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi added that Washington must respond to actions “outside the circle of civilized human behavior.”

“Humanity drew a line decades ago that I think if we ignore, we do so to the peril of many other people who could suffer,” said Pelosi, D-California.

But in a written statement later, Boehner said it is up to Obama “to make his case to the American people and their elected representatives” — including securing support from individual members.

boehner“All votes authorizing the use of military force are conscience votes for members, and passage will require direct, continuous engagement from the White House,” the speaker said.

The United States, along with NATO and several other countries, blames al-Assad’s forces for a chemical weapons attack that’s believed to have killed more than 1,000 people — including, Obama said Tuesday, more than 400 children.

Syria denies the accusations and accuses rebel groups of using chemical weapons, while the rebels blame government troops. The United States and several of its allies say the rebels don’t have the capability to launch a large-scale chemical attack like the one seen outside Damascus on August 21.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

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