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Barack Obama's men go all out to win support over Syria

By David Usborne

Barack Obama is to redouble his efforts to persuade a sceptical US Congress and American public to back military strikes against Syria.

The President and his team are using a variety of methods to convince his opponents – among them videos of squirming gas victims, an Oval Office address and deploying myriad surrogates to speak on his behalf.

The task has in recent days become more daunting. Members of Congress return to Washington today after mostly being besieged by their constituents to vote against action. Getting an authorising resolution through the Senate looks difficult; prospects of passage by the House look even tighter, with more than 200 members already indicating their opposition. What happens on Capitol Hill in the next days may determine whether missiles aimed at Syria are fired.

While he could theoretically ignore a "no" vote in Congress and order strikes anyway, to do so would almost surely elicit an impeachment effort.

On the CBS network last night, President Bashar al-Assad surfaced asserting his innocence. "There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people," he claimed.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in London last night as part of a tour of European capitals to stiffen the support of key allies. Speaking in Paris earlier, Mr Kerry said further discussion at the UN Security Council had not been ruled out, an option the French opposition is pressing on President Francois Hollande. "We are listening to all of our friends," Mr Kerry said.

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