Following an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria last week that's been blamed on Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Republican Senators on Sunday called on the Obama administration to respond with military intervention.
“Using stand-off weapons, without boots on the ground, and at minimal risk to our men and women in uniform, we can significantly degrade Assad’s air power and ballistic missile capabilities and help to establish and defend safe areas on the ground,” the Senators wrote. “In addition, we must begin a large-scale effort to train and equip moderate, vetted elements of the Syrian opposition with the game-changing weapons they need to shift the military balance against Assad’s forces.”
Also on Sunday, Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the United States needs to take a “leadership” position in a “surgical” attack on Assad's forces, and that Congress should authorize it.
“I think we will respond in a surgical way, and I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington [from Congressional recess] will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention, that causes them to understand that we are not going to put up with this kind of activity,” Corker told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. “At the same time, I hope it's the kind of action that doesn't move us away from the policy we have right now, where we want to see the Syrian opposition group taking the lead on the ground. So I hope we'll move our training up, I know we're doing it covertly now. I think we need to move to more industrial strength training on the ground. We need to tilt the balance a little bit more as it relates to the opposition group on the ground. And I don't want our actions that are in response to this chemical warfare to alter that, but I do think we have to respond.”
New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, also told Wallace that he supported intervening in Syria, but disagreed with Corker that the president would need Congressional authorization to do so.
“I do agree with Senator Corker that I think Congress needs to be involved, but perhaps not initially. Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it an–and assent to it,” Engel said.
“I certainly would do cruise missile strikes.”
Support for direct intervention in Syria has grown among the U.S. Congress since Assad's forces allegedly launched a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar last week.
Reports have been circulating that a U.S. and NATO strike on Syria are set to begin soon. On Saturday, Obama spent 40 minutes talking with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron over the phone, discussing possible intervention.
Additionally, the U.S. and U.K. Navies are being readied to launch cruise missiles into Syria.
The Syrian government has denied that it used chemical weapons, with Assad saying that the allegations are “against logic.”