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Obama 'proud' of pulling back from Syria air strikes

US President Barack Obama said he is proud of the moment he pulled the US from the brink of launching air strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Mr Obama was defending his actions in 2013 in newly published interviews with The Atlantic magazine. He said it was the right decision to make.

Mr Obama had been close to ordering military strikes to punish Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against Syrians.

At the last minute, he said he would ask for permission from Congress. The strikes never happened.

The reversal has become a prime example cited by those who argue Mr Obama has lost his credibility in the Middle East.

Mr Obama said it was among the toughest decisions he has made, but that it was in US interests to "pull back from the immediate pressures".

He said: "I'm very proud of this moment.

"For me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically. And the fact that I was able to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America's interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I've made."

Mr Obama acknowledged the broad perception that "America's credibility was at stake" in the 2013 decision not to strike. Yet he said that "ultimately it was the right decision to make".

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