President Barack Obama has postponed threatened missile strikes against Syria in a risky gamble that he can win more support for his plan to punish Bashar al-Assad's regime. To general surprise, the U.S. leader broke with decades of precedent to announce that he would seek approval from Congress for action against Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.
This effectively pushed military action back until at least September 9, when U.S. lawmakers return from their summer recess.
Obama insisted that he reserves the right to strike regardless of Congress's decision, and a White House official said the pause would also allow him time to build international support.
The Arab League meets in Cairo on Sunday and is expected to condemn Assad, and Obama travels to Russia next week for a G20 Summit that will now be overshadowed by the crisis.
Indeed, observers warned that he faces the same fate as Prime Minister David Cameron, who on Thursday lost his own vote on authorizing military action in the British parliament.
‘Finger on trigger’
Syria, meanwhile, said it has its "finger on the trigger" as it braces for what it had formerly feared was an imminent Western strike.