With pressure mounting on the G20 to make concrete progress towards ending the conflict, the United Nations announced that its special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was on his way to Russia to push for peace.
Obama cleared the first hurdle on Wednesday in his race to win domestic congressional backing for punitive strikes, but is also seeking broader international support.
Speaking during a trip to Stockholm, he said that the world had set ‘a red line’ for Syria and it could not now remain silent in the face of the alleged chemical weapons attack on Damascus suburbs.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin, a fierce opponent of the proposed military action, warned on the eve of the summit he is hosting in Saint Petersburg that it would be
unacceptable for the West to go ahead with military action against Damascus without UN Security Council approval.
The Kremlin demanded ‘convincing’ proof that the regime of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons against its own people.
According to US intelligence, more than 1,400 people living in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus were killed in the strike, which involved the use of the sarin nerve gas.
Beyond convincing Russia, Obama has a tough sell ahead elsewhere, with China - another veto-wielding Security Council member state - having already expressed its ‘rave concerns’ over unilateral military strikes.
In Saint Petersburg, Vice Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao emphasised that "China believes that only a political solution... is the way to solve the Syria problem," and warned of a negative impact on the world economy in case of military action.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly ruled out her country's participation in any US-led military strike against Assad's regime, while the British Parliament has also rejected the idea.


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