The U.S. Senate foreign-relations committee approved a resolution on Wednesday authorizing a limited U.S. military intervention in Syria, setting the stage for a debate in the full Senate next week on the use of military force.
The committee voted 10-7 in favor of a compromise resolution that sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.
The compromise is more limited than President Barack Obama's original proposal but meets the administration's goal of punishing Syria for what the U.S. government says is the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, killing more than 1,400 people.
The authorization still faces significant resistance in Congress, where many lawmakers fear it could lead to a prolonged U.S. military involvement in Syria's civil war and spark an escalation of regional violence.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the resolution next week. The House of Representatives also must approve the measure.
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Obama and administration officials have pushed Congress to act quickly, saying U.S. national security and international credibility is at stake in the decision whether to use force in Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad's government for chemical weapons use.
"If we don't take a stand here today, I guarantee you, we are more likely to face far greater risks to our security and a far greater likelihood of conflict that demands our action in the future," Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a separate meeting on Wednesday.
"Assad will read our silence, our unwillingness to act, as a signal that he can use his weapons with impunity," Kerry said.