Congress may still be in recess, but U.S. President Barack Obama's campaign of persuasion for striking Syria is already well underway.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he "couldn't contemplate" that Congress would "turn its back on Israel, on Jordan, on Turkey, on our allies in the region, turn its back on innocent Syrian people who have been slaughtered by this gas, and those who yet may be subject to an attack, if we don't stand up to this, I can't contemplate that the Congress would turn its back on all of that responsibility and the fact that we would have in fact granted impunity to a ruthless dictator to continue to gas his people."
Politico reported that as part of Obama and his aides' push to convince a skeptical Congress of the merits of attacking Syria, the White House intends on using the Israel angle to sway politicians: Iran and Hezbollah would be emboldened if Congress does not approve the strike.
Speaking to Fox News' Chris Wallace, Kerry was asked what message was being sent to Iran, Hezbollah and North Korea "when the President announces he thinks we should take military action, but is going to wait nine days for Congress to come back before he takes action?"
Kerry told Wallace that Iran and North Korea should take note of the U.S.'s democratic process, and that Congress' approval would send a clear message to Tehran.
Congress is slated to convene September 9 after its recess to debate the Syria strike. The Obama administration reportedly is not pushing to cancel the recess in order to rally more congressmen to back the strike. Kerry called Obama's decision to take the Syria issue to Congress "courageous."
The U.S. has evidence of sarin gas use, Kerry told NBC and CNN. "In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States that have now been tested from first responders in east Damascus and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin."
With his use of chemical weapons Assad has joined the ranks of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein, Kerry said.
Speaking to Fox News, Kerry warned Syria not to act foolishly and take advantage of the U.S.'s delay, hinting that Obama could act before Congress votes if chemical weapons are used again. While Obama has asked Congress for approval, Kerry clarified that the administration in fact "has the right to act regardless of what Congress does," though it prefers to have Congress' backing. "We are stronger when we work together ... America intends to act."
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande worked to garner support for his country's involvement in a strike on Syria. Hollande ordered an intelligence document on the Syrian chemical weapon industry declassified. The document contains information on the Syrian regime's stockpile of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas. According to the report, there are hundreds of tons of sarin and mustard gas, and tens of tons of VX gas. The report also details Syria's missile capabilities and their ability to deliver the chemical payloads.