Anti-war demonstrators in silent protest during Kerry's address before US House committee

Anti-war demonstrators in silent protest during Kerry's address before US House committee

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Anti-war demonstrators in silent protest during Kerrys address before US House committee

A Code Pink protester holds up her painted hands as US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 4. AFP photo

Arab nations have offered to help pay for any U.S. military intervention in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers Sept. 4 as he sought support for missile strikes.

While Kerry was appearing before the House Foreign Affairs committee, a group of activists held up their painted hands to protest President Barack Obama's initiative to strike Syria. 

Kerry was trying to persuade lawmakers to approve limited military strikes on the second day of the administration's blitz on Capitol hill.

But in a sign of the depth of opposition involvement in Syria, anti-war demonstrators held up red-stained hands behind Kerry's head in a silent protest during his testimony.

"With respect to Arab countries offering to bear the cost and to assist, the answer is profoundly yes, they have. That offer is on the table," Kerry said.

The offer was "quite significant," he said. "Some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we've done it previously in other places, they'll carry that cost. That's how dedicated they are to this." But he stressed: "Obviously, that is not in the cards and nobody is talking about it, but they are talking about taking seriously getting this job done."

Washington has led charges that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad unleashed sarin gas on August 21 against the residents of a Damascus suburb killing what a U.S. intelligence report said was some 1,400 people.

Obama has insisted that al-Assad's regime has crossed a red line against the use of such horrific weapons and should be punished and his military capability degraded.

Lawmakers are now drafting a resolution to go before Congress which would give the U.S. administration a 60-day deadline for military intervention, which could be extended once for 30 more days. It would also bar any American boots on the ground.

Asked if the time limit was acceptable to administration, Kerry said it would be preferable to have "a trigger in there" if al-Assad used chemical weapons again.

He indicated that a move to give the White House a further 60 days every time such arms were used would be acceptable.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee meanwhile held a three-hour, classified session to try to thrash out a draft resolution after Republican veteran Senator John McCain appeared to balk at the plan because he felt it did not go far enough.