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Senate committee backs Obama on Syria strike

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to give President Obama the latitude to strike at Syria for the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., listens at right as the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, during the committee's hearing to consider the authorization for use of military force in Syria.

Susan Walsh/AP

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President Barack Obama's request for speedy congressional backing of a military strike in Syria advanced in the US Senate on Wednesday, hours after the commander in chief left open the possibility he would order retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack even if Congress withheld its approval.

The authorization measure, which cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a 10-7 vote, was altered at the last minute to support "decisive changes to the present military balance of power" in Syria's civil war. It would rule out U.S. combat operations on the ground.

The resolution is expected to reach the Senate floor next week, although the timetable for a vote is uncertain. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky conservative with strong tea party ties, has threatened a filibuster.

 
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