ISTANBUL — Syria's opposition urged the U.S. Congress on Sunday to approve military action against President Bashar Assad, saying the legislators must make it clear that the use of chemical weapons will be punished wherever that occurs.

"Dictatorships like Iran and North Korea are watching closely to see how the free world responds to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people," the Syrian opposition coalition said in a statement Sunday. "If the free world fails to respond to such an outrageous breach of international norms, dictators around the world will be encouraged in their efforts to follow the example set by Assad."

On Saturday, President Barack Obama said he would seek congressional approval for a military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack.

The Syrian opposition also said a U.S. attack should be accompanied by more arms being sent to the rebels.

"`During the past two-and-a-half years, the democratic world has offered only condolences and promises whilst Assad's regime, supported by its allies in Iran and Russia, has been busy killing Syria's democratic hopes," said the statement issued in Istanbul.

"The Syrian coalition believes any possible military action should be carried out in conjunction with an effort to arm the Free Syrian Army. This will be vital in restraining Assad and ending the killing and chaos he wants to spread throughout the region."

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