Timeline: How President Obama handled Syria

President Obama made a series of missteps in handling the conflict in Syria, most notably asking Congress to approve a military intervention.


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Lawmakers on both the left and right came out in strong opposition, pointing out that their constituents are war weary. Obama tried to rally support, but failed to convince the public that a U.S. strike in Syria was necessary.

As House and Senate leaders were in the process of scheduling votes, Russia brokered a deal with Syria that was quickly embraced by the U.S.

The following is a timeline of the administration's handling of the conflict in Syria.

* Aug. 20, 2012: Obama threatens to act militarily if Syria crosses a “red line” and uses chemical weapons.

* June 13, 2013: The White House for the first time says Syria has used chemical weapons, crossing the red line. The administration says it will arm the rebels in response, but the weapons are stuck for more than two months after congressional intelligence panels raise questions about the vetting process.

* Aug. 21, 2013: An alleged chemical attack near Damascus kills more than 1,400 people. Videos of the attack begin to surface on YouTube within hours. Syrian rebels blame pro-Assad forces; the Syrian government blames the rebels. Russia disputes that the Syrian government is to blame.

* Aug. 24, 2013: U.S. Naval ships are positioned near Syria as the U.N. carries out an investigation into the attack.

* Aug. 29, 2013: The British Parliament stunningly rejects the resolution for military action against Syria despite Prime Minister David Cameron’s support for it.

* Aug. 30, 2013: Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryPompeo doubles down on criticism of Kerry: The Iran deal failed, 'let it go' John Kerry: Trump has ‘the insecurity of a teenage girl’ Kerry: Trump should be worried about Manafort talking to Mueller, not me talking to Iranians MORE makes the case for U.S. military action in a speech detailing the results of the U.S. intelligence community’s investigation into the Aug. 21 attack. The report holds the Assad government responsible for the chemical attack.

* Aug. 31, 2013: Obama speaks from the White House Rose Garden and announces his intention to seek congressional approval for a U.S. military action in Syria. He opts not to call Congress back into session immediately.

* Sept. 3, 2013: Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker GOP senator says he 'regularly' considers leaving Republican Party Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers MORE (R-Ohio) expresses support for the president’s call for military action against the Syrian government. But he makes it clear that Obama has to round up the votes.

* Sept. 3, 2013: Kerry testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which he ruled out the use of “boots on the ground.”

* Sept. 4, 2013: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves the resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Syria in a 10-7 vote. But the bipartisan vote comes amid mounting opposition against the Syria measure, especially in the House.

* Sept. 4, 2013: Obama denies setting a “red line," saying, “The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war.”

* Sept. 5-6, 2013: Obama travels to Russia for the G20 Summit and tries to gain support from world leaders to support U.S.-led action.

* Sept. 9, 2013: Syria President Bashar Assad warns of retaliation against the U.S. for any military action in response to the chemical weapons attacks. He says, “You should expect everything,” in an interview with CBS This Morning.

* Sept. 9, 2013: In a surprise development, Syria agrees to hand over the nation’s chemical weapons after diplomatic negotiations with Russia. Assad maintains this decision was not a reaction to the threat of U.S. military force.

* Sept. 9-10, 2013: Members of Congress attend classified briefings and listen to constituent opinions in preparation for the vote on Wednesday. Support for the authorization is low on Capitol Hill.

* Sept. 10, 2013: Obama addresses the nation and calls on Congress to postpone the votes on Syria.

* Sept. 12, 2013: Assad formally begins the process of jointing the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention.

* Sept. 14, 2013: The U.S. and Russia announce the framework of a deal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons. In a released statement, Obama touts "important progress," but stresses that the U.S. "remains prepared to act" if diplomacy fails.

--Julian Pecquet contributed.