The main-stream media (e.g. The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News) has been telling the public for four years that the U.S. is backing "well-vetted moderate" forces to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. They rarely mentioned that Assad is the head of the legitimate government of Syria, which he is the elected president, was widely popular among a large middle class, led a progressive government and heads one of the few non-sectarian governments in the Middle East.
The main stream media storyline is that Assad is a brutal dictator, which during the Syrian Arab Spring in 2011 he violently crushed peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators. This violent repression of democracy by Assad, and his ongoing discrimination against the Sunni majority by the Assad regime, made up mostly of Shi'a, is what the media says led to a civil war.
As we follow this storyline, the opposition forces against Assad are made up of a moderate non-sectarian "Free Syrian Army" (FSA), Sunni jihadists of "al-Qaeda in Syria", and an ultra-extreme party of war by the names the "Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL and Daesh".
The media story continues that the international community, made up of a coalition of nations led by the U.S., is conducting an anti-terrorist operation to eliminate the Islamic State/Daesh as the latest phase of the ongoing and never ending war against terrorism. The Islamic State has been said by Secretary of State John Kerry, President Barack Obama, Senator John McCain and others (here) must be eliminated before they can establish a caliphate in Iraq and Syria and ultimately invade the U.S. and the world.
As far back as 2012 the main stream media (e.g. New York Time) told us that the Obama administration was providing non-lethal aid to the Free Syrian Army moderates. According to another report (Reuters) President Obama gave the CIA orders to provide non-lethal aid from a secret base in Turkey that was being used by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE to send weapons to anti-Assad forces.
The term "non-lethal" aid to military groups is a mischaracterization because it includes many of the supplies that an armed group needs, such as radios, trucks, medicine and food, in order to be a lethal fighting force. A non-lethal truck for example can easily have a machine gun mounted on it to make it a lethal fighting machine. The non-lethal aid is also often sold on the black market to buy weapons.
It is no secret that the U.S. foreign policy has long been the removal of Bashar al-Assad. In a speech in 2007, General Wesley Clark said that he was told within days after the attacks of 9-11 in 2001 that the U.S. planned to overthrow the governments of seven countries in five years, which included Syria (watch). One problem preventing an overt U.S. war against Assad's government is that there was no overt casus belli .
Instead Obama with the usual aid and support of the main stream media made up a casus belli. Acts of self-defense by the legitimate government of Syria against outside state-sponsored jihadist groups is portrayed as "Assad killing his own people" and "crimes against humanity". The outside state actors, such as the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar that are financing and supporting the jihadists are portrayed as humanitarian interventionists supporting moderate freedom fighters.
In 2012 Obama made a public statement that if Assad used his suspected stockpile of chemical weapons against the insurgents, then Assad would be crossing Obama's red line. Obama's ad lib "red line" remark was widely interpreted as Obama's firm resolve that if Assad used chemical weapons, then that would be the casus belli for Obama to use military force against him.
In June of 2013 the Assad regime was accused of using chemical weapons against his own people. Through a spokesperson Obama released the following statement:
" [T] he use of chemical weapons [by Assad] violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades [here]"
Obama's and the U.S. credibility were then on the "red line" to respond with military force (here). Obama vowed to increase aid to the rebel groups and to respond to the crossing of the red line by Assad in a time and manor of Obama's choosing. In August of 2013 Obama announced that he was going to seek the approval of Congress to bomb Syria saying:
"Here's my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price [here]?"
Obama ordered his military to prepare to strike Syria with hundreds of bombs and missiles. Public protests began pouring into Congress and polls showed that at least half of the U.S. population was against Obama bombing Syria [here].
With the public opposition growing, Obama let it be known that he was only asking for Congress's approval as a formality and that whether they gave it or not, as the Commander in Chief he did not need Congress for him to proceed with his military plans. Still, if Obama failed to get Congressional approval, which was beginning to look doubtful, and he went ahead and bombed Syria it would raise serious political criticism, and maybe even a Constitutional crisis, especially if things should go terrible wrong.