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Iran Plays Supporting Role In House Panel Debate on Syria

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee focus on potential adverse fallout from a US strike on Syria, including emboldening extremist opposition to Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) testifies alongside Secretary of State John Kerry at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2013. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet on Wednesday afternoon to proceed with its vote on an authorization for the use of military force in Syria, the panel's chairman said in a statement.  REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CONFLICT) - RTX13792

Obama administration arguments in favor of striking Syria to deter it from using chemical weapons again met tough questioning Wednesday, Sept. 4, in a skeptical House of Representatives that focused less on shoring up US credibility than on the potential costs and unintended consequences of direct US military involvement in Syria’s civil war. 

A secondary argument by the executive branch has been that it is necessary to strike Syria to convince Iran that President Barack Obama was not bluffing when he also vowed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. However, during a hearing that lasted more than four hours, only seven of 35 members of the House Foreign Relations Committee who posed questions to top US officials stressed the Iran angle. Many more asked if US action would embolden Islamic extremists who oppose the Syrian regime and why it was an American responsibility to respond to what did not appear to be an imminent threat to US national security.

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