Published: Aug 31, 2013 2:13 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 31, 2013 7:29 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Delaying what had appeared to be an imminent strike, President Barack Obama abruptly announced Saturday he will seek congressional approval before

launching any military action meant to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds. With Navy ships in the

Mediterranean Sea ready to strike, Obama said he had decided the United States should take military action, but also determined  "our country will be better

off" if Congress renders its own opinion. At the same time, he challenged lawmakers to consider "what message will we send to a dictator" if he is allowed to

killed hundreds of children with chemical weapons without suffering any retaliation. Lawmakers will return to session on Sept. 9.

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