WASHINGTON - Leading US Republican lawmakers voiced skepticism on Sunday over whether a deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons could work without a credible threat of force pressuring the Syrian government to comply.
The deal, reached on Saturday after talks between the United States and Russia, calls on Syrian President Bashar Assad to account for his chemical stockpile within a week and allow for international inspections by the middle of next year.
"If the president believes, like I do, that a credible military force helps you get a diplomatic solution, they gave that away in this deal. I'm really concerned about that," Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN.
"Not one ounce of chemical weapons came off the battlefield but we've given up every ounce of our leverage when it comes to trying to solve the broader Syrian problem because we've taken away a credible military threat," said Rogers, a Michigan lawmaker.
Obama said on Saturday that the United States "remains prepared to act" should diplomatic efforts fail in Syria.