U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the United States "should take military action against Syrian targets" over its alleged use of chemical weapons, but added that he will seek congressional authorization for the move.
In a televised address from the White House Rose Garden, the president appealed for members of Congress to consider their responsibilities and values in debating U.S. military action over Syria's alleged chemical weapons use. Here are the latest developments:
-- President Barack Obama has authority to act without Congress -- even if it rejects his request for authorization to use military force in Syria, a senior administration official told CNN on Saturday. The official was expanding on what the president said in his Rose Garden statement: "... while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective."
-- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday will begin a debate on the authorization of the use of military force in Syria, committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, said in a statement Saturday.
-- President Barack Obama sent to the heads of the House and Senate a letter Saturday with draft legislation that would authorize use of the U.S. military "in connection with the conflict in Syria." This comes after Obama said he would seek congressional approval for U.S. military action in Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.
-- Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has been a critic of Obama administration policies, said Saturday he is "very glad" the president is seeking congressional authorization for any use of force in Syria, but is troubled by the "justifications the Obama administration has put forth so far."
-- U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande chatted in a phone call Saturday about Syria, with the two leaders agreeing that "the international community must deliver a resolute message" to the Bashar al-Assad government and "others who would consider using chemical weapons."
-- U.S. intelligence is showing Syrian army units dispersed into defensive positions in recent days and the belief is that posture could continue for some days, a senior Defense Department official said.
-- The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said there will be "appropriate targeting options" in Syria and the military is using the latest intelligence to refine its targeting, said Col. Edward Thomas, spokesman for chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.
-- President Barack Obama is turning to Congress to approve military action against Syria because such a mission has not received enough support across the world and in the United States, influential Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov said in a Twitter message Saturday.
-- U.N. chemical weapons inspectors could take as long as three weeks to analyze evidence from the sites of alleged Syrian chemical weapons attacks, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Nine of the 12 inspectors are part of the group. An independent chemical weapons expert, however, suggested the results may require as little as a week.
-- Several moderate Democratic senators made a strong case to administration officials on Friday that Obama needs congressional authorization for military action against Syria, a Republican senator told CNN on Saturday. The senator was on a Friday call with members of the Senate's foreign relations and armed services committees.
-- Sen. Saxby Chambliss, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Saturday he appreciates Obama's decision to seek congressional approval but that he should have demanded that Congress return immediately to debate the issue.
-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Saturday military action in response to Assad's use of chemical weapons -- limited in scope and duration and without boots on the ground -- is in America's national security interest and furthers regional stability and global security.
-- Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Saturday they cannot support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of a strategy to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power and bring an end to the conflict. Anything less would be an inadequate response to crimes against humanity and send the wrong signal to America's friends and allies, they said.
-- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said Saturday he is "encouraged President Obama now says he will fulfill his constitutional obligation to seek authorization for any potential military action in Syria."
-- "If the Syrian regime thinks they'll gain by any delay if the U.S. takes military action in the future, they'd be sorely mistaken," a U.S. defense official said Saturday, adding the American military is able to deal with the coming days of uncertainty about a strike.
-- Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with the Syrian opposition leader and the Saudi foreign minister to underscore President Barack Obama's commitment to holding the Syrian regime accountable for last week's chemical weapons attack, a senior State Department official said Saturday.
-- It was around 7 p.m. Friday night that Obama came to his decision to seek congressional approval, senior administration officials said Saturday. He was wrestling with the decision all week, and there was a debate within the president's senior advisers after his decision, the officials said.
-- Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday he will work with Senate leaders "as expeditiously as possible" to authorize use of military force against Syria. "We say what we mean, we mean what we say, and we don't look away when undeniable war crimes are committed," the New Jersey Democrat said.
-- Iranian lawmakers arrived in Damascus on Saturday "as a sign of solidarity with the Syrian government," Iran's state-run news agency IRNA reported.
-- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Saturday that Obama "wisely chose" to seek congressional support for military action against Syria. Congressional authorization, he said, would strengthen Obama's decision to take action.
-- A spokesman for the opposition Syrian National Coalition told CNN's Ivan Watson on Saturday that the opposition group was surprised by Obama's decision to consult Congress before any military action against Syria. Louay Safi said it was a "great disappointment" because they expected action after the U.S. administration blamed the Assad regime for carrying out the chemical weapons attack. "Our fear now is that the lack of action could embolden the regime and they repeat his attacks in a more serious way," Safi said.