In this photo released on Sunday, May 26, 2013, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad take their position during a clashes against Syrian rebels, in Aleppo, Syria. Syria's Information Ministry says rebels have killed a TV correspondent who was covering clashes near the border with Lebanon. (AP Photo/SANA)
WASHINGTON -- Delaying what had appeared to be an imminent strike, President Barack Obama says 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 appeared in the Rose Garden this afternoon to announce he has decided the United States should take military action. But he added that he also has determined the country "will be better off" if Congress renders its own opinion on the matter.
At the same time, Obama challenged lawmakers to consider what message the U.S. will send to a dictator if he is allowed to kill hundreds of children with chemical weapons without suffering any retaliation.
Lawmakers are scheduled to return to session on Sept. 9.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says the president's role as commander in chief is strengthened when he has the support of lawmakers.
McConnell made the comment in a statement confirming President Barack Obama's announcement that he had told congressional leaders he wanted to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack but would first seek congressional approval.
Lawmakers had widely called for Obama to include Congress in the decision under the War Powers Act.