Opposition groups reacted negatively to news that the US would hold off on a strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad Saturday night, with some accusing US President Barack Obama’s of endangering them with his “backpedaling.”
“The death will continue in Syria because of the (failure of the) leadership of the United States to act decisively at this point,” Syrian National Council spokesperson Louay Safi said after the announcement, according to NBC News.
The country’s prime minister, meanwhile, said the army was ready for any foreign action that may come.
“The Syrian army is fully ready, its finger on the trigger to face any challenge or scenario that they want to carry out,” Wael al-Halqi said in a written statement aired on state television, according to the AFP.
On Saturday night, Obama announced that he would seek a Congressional okay for a strike against Damascus, pushing off action many believed would come as early as Saturday.
US, British and French leaders have indicated a willingness to intervene military in Syria’s civil war, after the reported use of chemical weapons that killed hundreds in late August.
However, it now seems that action will come in mid-September at the earliest, as Congress won’t even tackle the matter until September 9, time critics say will embolden Assad and allow him to continue pounding rebel forces.
“Assad will retaliate against the people, with more force than now,” a rebel spokesman told NBC.
After a short break Saturday, Syria’s army resumed shelling rebel-held areas in Damascus immediately after Obama’s announcement Saturday night, according to eyewitnesses quoted by the station.
Syrian and Iranian officials have issued a number of bellicose statements over the past week, warning that any action against Syria would inflame the region and draw other countries into the war.
Several, including Iran’s army chief, warned that American action against Damascus would bring rockets onto Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.