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Americans widely oppose Syria strike despite drumbeat in Washington

Published time: September 04, 2013 15:42
Edited time: September 05, 2013 10:06
People demonstrate against US intervention in Syria in front of the White House in Washington on September 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

People demonstrate against US intervention in Syria in front of the White House in Washington on September 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

While Congress considers United States President Barack Obama’s request to use military force against the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, fewer than four-in-ten Americans say they are in favor of launching a strike.

According to the results of a Washington Post/ABC poll released on Tuesday, only 36 percent of Americans surveyed say they would support a US military initiative that would involve launching missiles against the Syrian government.

The poll was conducted by the news outlets by phone between August 28 and September 1, one week after a reported chemical weapons assault outside of Damascus, Syria was allegedly launched by Pres. Assad. The White House has since blamed the Syrian leader for the assault and says the use of chemical weapons killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of innocent women and children.

Pres. Obama has asked Congress to approve a resolution that would allow for a limited strike against Assad’s regime that wouldn’t require any American boots on the ground and would degrade the Syrian government’s capabilities with regards to launching any further chemical weapon attacks. Arguments were heard in the US Senate on Tuesday, and on Wednesday lawmakers in the House of Representatives are expected to weigh in.

As far as the American public goes, however, support for a strike against Assad is not exactly at an all-time high. When a similar poll was conducted last December, only 30 percent of Americans asked said they’d oppose a strike, while 63 percent said they’d favor military action. According to the latest figures, 59 percent of Americans are now opposed to using US forces to reprimand Assad over an alleged chemical weapons assault thought to have been orchestrated by his army.

Sentiments regarding a potential military strike launched from the Mediterranean towards the Syrian coast aren’t divided among party lines, either. The latest Post-ABC poll revealed that 42 percent of Democrats oppose a strike, as do 43 percent of Republicans. Opposition among parties clocks in at 54 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

During Tuesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) compelled the Obama administration to find anyone outside of Washington willing to launch a strike in Syria.

"I haven't had one person come up to me and say they're for this war. Not one person," Sen. Paul said to Secretary of State John Kerry during Tuesday’s hearing.

Pres. Obama, Sec. Kerry and the top lawmakers in Congress from both the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle say they’ll endorse a military strike after meeting at the White House this week.

Support is still scarce outside of the executive branch, however, including abroad. The British parliament has already made it clear that it opposes a strike on Syria, prompting Pres. Obama to announce last week that he’s willing to launch a unilateral assault should none of America’s allies climb aboard. If Great Britain and France do decide to endorse Obama’s plan, however, 46 percent of Americans say they will support a strike, according to the latest poll.

The results of the Post-ABC poll are based off of answers supplied by a random sample of 1,012 adults.

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