President Obama has announced he has decided to take military action against Syria, but that he is seeking congressional authority before launching an attack.
"After careful deliberation I have decided that the Untied States should take military action against Syrian military targets," Mr Obama said from the Rose Garden today.
"I am confident going ahead without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that so far has been paralysed."
But, he added: "This decision is too big to go ahead without debate."
He said he has the authority to strike Syria without Congress, but that a debate over the use of force will strengthen the country.
President Obama revealed advisers had cautioned against going to Congress, particularly in light of the Commons defeat David Cameron suffered on Thursday.
The Prime Minister quickly took to Twitter to endorse the president's approach, writing: "I understand and support Barack Obama's position on #Syria."
I understand and support Barack Obama's position on #Syria.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 31, 2013
Now the world awaits as the countdown begins to a likely U.S. military strike intended to punish Bashar Assad's government for the alleged use of chemical weapons.
Mr Obama said his mind had been made up following the alleged sarin gas attack on August 21st, which he branded "an assault on human dignity."
He added: "It also presents a serious danger to our national security it risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
"In a world of many dangers this menace must be confronted," he said.
Mr Obama said the American military has positioned assets in the region, while the chairmen of the joint chiefs had informed him the U.S. "are prepared to strike whenever we chose."
He added any attack is "not time sensitive," it will be effective "tomorrow, or next week or one month from now and I'm prepared to give that order."
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He said he spoke to congressional leaders Saturday morning and that they have agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote when Congress comes back into session.
The Syrian army responded to the rapidly escalating threat of U.S. military action today by saying it will retaliate with force.
"The Syrian army is fully ready, its finger on the trigger to face any challenge or scenario that they want to carry out," Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin also said today that it would be 'utter nonsense' for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons and warned the US to hold off on any military action.
The Obama administration released a four-page intelligence report on Friday that said at least 1,429 people, including more than 400 children, were killed in the chemical weapons attack.Suggest a correction