Syrians continued to cross the Turkish border from a war-torn country where many fear a military strike by the United States in retaliation for what the U.S. says was a chemical weapons attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces that killed 1,429 people in the Damascus suburbs.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he would seek congressional authorization for punitive military action against Syria is likely to delay any strike for at least nine days.
Syria hailed a historic American retreat; on Sunday, mockingly accusing Obama of hesitation and confusion after he delayed a military response to last month’s chemical weapons attack near Damascus until after a congressional vote.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said tests had shown sarin nerve gas was fired on rebel-held areas on Aug. 21, and expressed confidence that U.S. lawmakers would “do what is right” in response.
With international diplomacy over the possibility of strikes against Assad at fever pitch on Monday, Syrians leaving their country appeared mostly unwilling to talk to the media about the issues.
One who did told Reuters it was too late for intervention.
“We wish that international powers would have launched a strike against the regime and toppled the government. It has been more than two years, it’s too late now,” said Mahmoud, a Syrian refugee.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this week that any international military intervention against Syria should be aimed at bringing an end to the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The comments from Erdogan, long one of Assad’s fiercest critics, came as Obama said he was considering a narrow, limited U.S. response to last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria.
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR and UNICEF have reported that of the estimated 2 million refugees that have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict, 1 million of them are minors.