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President Obama seeking congressional approval for Syria action

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WASHINGTON (AP) -

Delaying what appeared to be an imminent strike, President Barack Obama abruptly announced Saturday he will seek congressional approval before launching any military action meant to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds.

With Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea ready to strike, Obama said he had decided the United States should take military action, but also determined "our country will be better off" if Congress renders its own opinion.

At the same time, he challenged lawmakers to consider "what message will we send to a dictator" if he is allowed to killed hundreds of children with chemical weapons without suffering any retaliation.

Lawmakers will return to session on Sept. 9.

Members of Congress are grappling with whether to sign off on President Barack Obama's plan to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

The debate over what action, if any, Congress might approve is in its infancy as lawmakers prepare for public hearings next week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the first contours began emerging within hours of Obama's announcement.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says he doesn't believe Syria should go unpunished for the attack. But, he says, "we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is." He adds, "What the president may perceive as limited ... won't stop there."

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are arguing for a strategy that seeks to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. They've issued a joint statement saying any operation should be broader in scope than the "limited" scope Obama described. They call the conflict in Syria "a growing threat to our national security interests."

Michigan Democratic Rep. Sander Levin released the following statement: "I support the president's decision to seek authorization from Congress. Based on the evidence provided to date, I think that there must be a response to the actions by the Syrian government. In order to obtain all of the latest information, I am returning to Washington tomorrow [Sunday] for a classified briefing."

Stay with Fox 2 and myfoxdetroit.com for updates on this developing story.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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