Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria
August 25th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
11 months ago

Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria

Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET on 8/25

Washington (CNN) – Two key members of congressional foreign affairs panels say they expect the United States to strike Syria following reports of chemical weapons attacks in that country last week, though other lawmakers interviewed Sunday cautioned that unilateral action would be misguided.

"I think we will respond in a surgical way and I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington, 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 that kind of activity," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

But Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel, said President Barack Obama may not need to wait for congressional authorization.

"Congress needs to be involved but perhaps not initially," Engel said. "Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it and assent to it. We cannot sit still. We've got to move and we've got to move quickly."

Another Democrat, however, said the United States should only intervene militarily in Syria with the backing of an international coalition.

“This has to be an international operation, it can’t be a unilateral American approach,” Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We can’t let ourselves get into a situation where this becomes a springboard for a general military operation in Syria to try and change the dynamic,” Reed said. “That dynamic is going to be long term, very difficult, and ultimately established by the Syrians, not by foreign powers.”

Rep. Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS he didn’t think Americans “have an appetite to put troops on the ground in Syria.”

The situation in Syria escalated dramatically last week after reports the government there used chemical weapons in civilian areas.

Opposition groups say over a thousand people died in the attack with thousands more affected by the gas.

CNN cannot independently verify the causality claims.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister said Sunday that the government will allow United Nations inspectors to visit the site of the alleged attack, but that may be too late.

"If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN – five days ago. At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible," a senior Obama administration official said Sunday.

Over 100,000 people are estimated to have perished so far in Syria's civil war.

CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.


Filed under: Bob Corker • Syria
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. George Sorros

    Obama needs to hurry up and give the order to Bomb and start this New War that will help the unemployment rate americans need jobs jobs jobs :-)

    August 25, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. Bob

    Unsubstantiated claims of unqualified middleast experts have me shaking in my boots.

    August 25, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. oh no!

    after nearly five years without a president a failing america is no match for syria!

    August 25, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. lean6

    I wonder what we're REALLY going to war for this time. Israel has been eerily not in the news for quite some time.

    August 25, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Thomas

    What city's in the US will the refuges of this surgical strike be moving too ?

    This is no way to deal with our immigration problem ! Every time we involve ourselves in military conflict we invite hundreds of thousands of displaced people to America .
    Why cant we ever support a regime change that dose not invite exodus ?

    August 25, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. rs

    Here we have a complex problem, involving religion, culture, a civil war and ethnic clashes- The GOP? They want a bombing.
    Whenever the GOP fires off on something, that once again, they don't grasp, and they can't fix, one simply has to wonder- what's wrong with these people? They just want action- like 2 year-olds on a sugar high.

    We can't fix Syria- but we can sure make things worse- let the UN sort this one out.

    August 25, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. God Smack

    Surgical strike. One Tomahawk missile into Assad's bedroom window at 2am should do the trick.

    August 25, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  8. Theo Phorus

    "... the killing of innocents..." I do abhor the consequences of any war, that is the suffering that always falls upon those not directly involved in fighting. However, have we forgotten what is going on here? This is not a bunch of 'innocents' that Assad is fighting. This is a civil war or a revolt against the state/government in place. Of course the government is going to use force to quash the rebellion, what state wouldn't. Does anyone remember Waco? Talk about innocents. Our government incinerated women, children, even infants! Having said that 'chemical weapons' have been a unacceptable since they were used in WWI. This is an international stand that requires an international response. It is not the responsibility of the the US/UK to intervene... At the very least not until it becomes absolutely clear that this is repeated behavior and the UN is not going to do its job.

    August 25, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  9. jamie

    America's gross national product ...... WAR

    August 25, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. RAL

    The second we get involved every bad thing that happens will be blamed on the USA, and the elites will act as if Syria was paradise on Earth before America intervened.

    August 25, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. doowopdj1

    Let them kill each other! It is none of our affair.

    August 25, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. snowdog

    Someone has do something. The UN is useless. We cannot just let people die in the hands of a brutal dictator.

    August 25, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  13. snowdog

    You people that say not to do anything. So you will just let innocent people die like we did with the Holocaust? Have you lost your marbles? How can we just sit by, like we have, and let innocent people die?

    August 25, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. kenn fann

    This is the perfect time to show our support for women in the Infantry, Armor an Artillery. We have the time to do the train up before congress resumes and virtually every member of congress has shown strong support for the use of females in direct combat, so lets show the world how tough we are. As a side benefit, this will give the men in combat arms a long needed rest from the back to back to back tours to a war zone. It isn't like the majority on congress has anything (family members) at stake if we go, p.s. Unlike most of congress i have a grandson who could be in danger if we don't act immediately and I am a retired vet who knows what war is.

    August 25, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  15. Shelia

    A strike on whom? It's a civil war.

    August 25, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Raveur

    The Syrian government used chemical weapons on civilians. This isn't the Nazi era. There must be repercussions for these war crimes. We may not go to war, but Assad needs to be punished.
    Otherwise, he will use chemical weapons again.
    The US has no choice: bomb Assad. This is a humanitarian move to prevent further crimes against humanity.

    August 25, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  17. Fr33d0mhawk

    There is a huge problem about Syria, there are plenty of victims but most of those victims hate the USA as bad as they hate each other. Should we help people who would love to see the West go up in a nuclear fireball? We helped the Afghanis fight off the Ruskies and the Afghanis we helped thanked us by flying planes into the WTC and pouring acid on the faces of little girls trying to go to school. The old adage that no good deed goes unpunished is an understatement of biblical proportions when dealing with countries that hate the USA.

    August 25, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Gant

    Syria is a country older than stone. If they haven't "discovered' general human decency by now or fought to attain it, then will never. I'm sorry those people got gassed, but this is Syria. It's never going to change and the U.S. won't alter a thing.

    August 25, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. p. barker

    Unfortunately, the Middle East is our problem. When R. Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold, and signed agreements with Middle East Oil Produces (OPEC) to defend their interests with U.S. military, if necessary, in exchange for OPEC dealing only in dollars ....hence "petro dollars".. we forever became entangled with the events in the Middle East. A failure to support oil interests in the Middle East, which includes stability in the region, could decouple the dollar from oil. In other words, if the dollar is no longer the reserve currency behind the global oil trade, then the dollar will become what it in reality is....a fiat currency worth nothing more than the paper upon which it is printed. Bad news for us!!!!

    August 25, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  20. Ohioan

    Please do not surgically strike anybody if our government still does not even know all the facts. A humanitarian evacuation, maybe, but please no military strike. I agree with those commenting who say that many of the people on both sides of this war in Syria hate the U.S. already, and Al Qaeda has evidently well infiltrated the Syrian opposition. It does not seem that we have the ability or authorization to do anything in Syria without the international community being involved. Yes, this means Russia. Otherwise, it seems to me a BIG MISTAKE. However, I am a loyal American, and if our government does determine it is necessary to act in this matter, I will back it up. It is a terrible situation, and it strikes me as more portentous than any of the Mideast crises we have had in recent years.

    August 25, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. shut up

    There should be ONLY an international military strike after it is reasonably certain Assad regime is responsible. It is possible a terrorist group could have done this. We cannot militarily solve the worlds problems through munitions! However, the U.S. and other regional powers should not continue to stand by and allow such horrible indiscriminate killing of defenseless civilians. Believe me, I remember watching Syrians in the streets cheering and chanting and burning our flag, but we're Americans aren't we. We stand for something better than that I believe. Every other effort and alternative should be attempted BEFORE we committee ourselves unilaterally.

    August 25, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. James Klimaski

    We have not learned our lesson from chasing the Russians out of Afghanistan using the Taliban and the future leaders of Al Qiada. Now we intend to do it again in Syria. We will support the rebels which includes to Al Qiada organizations and when they win and the bloodbath begins with the Christian minority, what will we say. That we didn't know?

    The Republicans are supporting a surgical strike. What happens when Assad shoots down a couple of our planes? He does have the capability. Why we will be forced to escalate, of course. War to what end. To satisfy our ego. Maybe this is all a plot to get the Nobel Committee to take back Obama's Peace Prize.

    August 25, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  23. Alfred E Newmann

    The policy to go to war with any country that uses chemical weapons was set by FDR.

    August 25, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. shabba shabba

    Why exactly is the U.S. going to bomb Syria ????? Did Syria attack the U.S. ,or some U.S. interest ??? I really feel like im missing something here. So we are going to bomb them to show them that chemical weapons are bad ? What the Hell kind of logic is that ?

    August 25, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  25. elias

    the international community needs to act and act right now!
    Assad has used chemical weapons for 13 times before this week and the world looked the other way!
    thats what emboldened him to suffocate another 1300 and he will sontinue his slaughter and laughter if the world does not act now!
    those fascists supporting a killer like assad on this page should have their head examined for hatred of muslims!

    August 25, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
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