NATION

Kerry, Hagel testify on Syria

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State John Kerry says the debate about military strikes against Syria is not about President Barack Obama's "red line" that weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated.

Instead, Kerry told Congress Tuesday that "this debate is about the world's red line." He says it is "a red line that anyone with a conscience ought to draw."

Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey were dispatched to the Senate to help persuade lawmakers to support a resolution authorizing limited military strikes against Syria following a chemical weapons attack last month outside Damascus that left hundreds dead, including many children.

Kerry said "This is not the time for arm-chair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, meanwhile, says several key allies in the region strongly support U.S. military action in Syria.

Hagel told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and others in the region are key partners in any U.S. action.

He said U.S. forces were ready to act whenever President Barack Obama gives the order.

Obama's foreign policy team was laying out a vigorous defense this week for a limited, tailored military strike aimed at degrading Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime's ability to carry out chemical weapons' attacks.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the standing of the U.S. among allies in the region would be eroded if America shows it is unwilling to act.

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