Assad is fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda so why does Obama want to help an enemy he is fighting?

Although cautiously welcoming Russian proposals to oversee the decommissioning of Syria’s chemical weapons, Mr Obama said the US military remained on alert “in case diplomacy fails”.

In a highly-publicised address delivered in television prime time from the White House, Mr Obama broke little new ground but instead tried to directly address the concerns of a nation “sick and tired of war”.

“The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them,” he told an American public that opinion polls show are strongly opposed to military action.

Mr Obama said the Russian initiative, as well as the Assad regime’s offer to join a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons, were “encouraging signs”.

Although cautioning that it was “too early to tell whether this offer will succeed” Mr Obama said the initiative had “the potential t

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