Syria Paper: Obama Starting 'Historic American Retreat' Assad boasts Syria can deal with 'any external aggression' By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Sep 1, 2013 9:09 AM CDT 157 comments Comments President Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about the crisis in Syria, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Newser) – President Obama has started a "historic American retreat" in seeking Congress' approval to strike Syria, according to a gloating state-run newspaper. "Whether the Congress lights the red or green light for an aggression, and whether the prospects of war have been enhanced or faded, President Obama has announced yesterday, by prevaricating or hinting, the start of the historic American retreat," said the front-page article in al-Thawra, as per the AP. The nose-thumbing isn't limited to print media, with state television quoting Bashar al-Assad as boasting that "Syria is capable of confronting any external aggression," reports al-Jazeera. He continues: "The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles ... or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America."