Washington: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorise President Barack Obama to conduct a limited US military operation in Syria, the first step toward congressional endorsement of the effort.

The resolution, approved 10-7, supports use of force in a “limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets” during a 60-day period following enactment, with a possible 30-day extension at Obama’s request. The resolution doesn’t authorise use of US ground troops in combat. Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, voted “present.”

The committee vote clears the way for consideration by the full Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said that will begin September 9 when Congress officially reconvenes after a five-week break.

House and Senate committees quickly scheduled hearings this week after Obama announced August 31 that he would seek congressional approval to use military force against Syria in response to what the US says was the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.