Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria
August 25th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
12 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. suzy000

    100,000 people have died...you think we are a bit late? If we take out Assad...who does that leave? Al-Qaeda? Da m ned if we do and da m ned if we don't. There is no good play for us here....what do we do? Remember now guys....Assad has those chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction we couldn't find in Iraq.

    August 25, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Tom

    [“This has to be an international operation, it can’t be a unilateral American approach,” Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island]

    If we do anything at all, Sen. Reed pegged that right.
    The Syrian govt. will force thousands of civilians by gunpoint to converge at as many military posts as possible. Guess who gets the blame for slaughtering them (and rightfully so at that point)

    August 25, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  3. Walking Man

    It is the manifest destiny of the United States to lead the great crusade for a final solution to the Muslim problem.

    August 25, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  4. BILL, WI

    Now is the time for the EU and Arab League to take the lead in the middle east.

    August 25, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  5. surprised

    Its amazing that congress looks to obama to ASK them for war permission.

    they are the ones who declare war. they decide. they initiate, the proactively determine this.

    August 25, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  6. justanaverageguy

    Can we afford this? Let other countries chip in.
    The feds are already trying to rob seniors of some
    of their Social Security from past wars.

    August 25, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. bronorman

    Well it is obvious to anyone with average intelligence, after the arguments by Senator Jack Reed and Representative Mike McCaul, that the real reason for a US quick reaction force is to extract an operator(s) who may either be dead or wounded. No one leaves an SF in enemy lines. This was what villified President Kennedy over members of the SF left for dead or bombed to death by B-52 strikes.

    August 25, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  8. Jeff

    Yea everybody, let's do nothing and send the message to all the other little po-dunk countries that we approve of them using chemical weapons against their citizens. Just how effin stupid are you people? We just need to send in a couple dozen cruise missiles and take out assets dear to Assad and his ability to wage war and tell him not to do it again or something bigger will come his way.

    August 25, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. Scott_Australia

    A tragic situation, not only the gassing but the mass killings and millions displaced.

    Military intervention into Syria must begin with the states of the Arab league. Only upon failure of such effort should western force be used. As for a UN security council resolution, in view of the killings gas or bullet or otherwise permission is not required to punch a bully.

    I am heartened to see that the USA, as the lone superpower, taking regard for the welfare of the innocent, but policing this conflict is a near impossibility. At this stage the situation does not warrant intervention by traditional/regular defense participants such as the USA, UK, NATO or the Australian forces, as is currently being discussed at home.

    I understand the gravity of the Syrian state failing and the terrorist embedded as rebels taking control of the WMD's but the west cannot police the globe, regional actors MUST do their part first.
    Peace for the Syrian people.

    August 25, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  10. Funguseater

    Why, are they telling Assad they are coming in a day or two? His military knows they need to fire those fat SCUDs before the US moves in, regardless of who used the gas.

    August 25, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. allen

    Can't wait for them to get back from vacation, Assad will strike again before then.

    August 25, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  12. jack

    The problem with all the comments here is that no one mentions how secure the Chemical Weapons are. The fact that they are being used means they are not secure. The reason US should go in Syria is to secure the Chems or the Islamist could get them and what will you comment on when the Chems start going off in the US and anywhere the US are around the world. So it does not matter who set them off the US and the rest of the world should worry about where these weapons will wind up.

    August 25, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  13. a

    This is your last game. If US political class is lucky, they will be hanged by their own people. If not, they may discover uncomfortable dispatching methods of central Asia sooner, rather than later.

    August 25, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  14. Name Uche Agonsi

    Dear Chris Wiegard, death is death, whether by Chemical weaponry, cruise missiles, double barrel, etc. Here there is no special way to separate Assad from women, children and the civil population. You dont stop killing with killing. According to Al Capone, if you have cause to settle a problem with a gun and kind words, the latter 'kind words' is preferable. American Soldiers/ Marines/ Airforce needs respite. You will never know your opponents reaction until you deliver your message. You can take that to the bank.

    August 26, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  15. 62stickman

    We have a responsibility as civilized people to try and intervene in stopping the slaughter of innocent civilians.
    We do not need to send in the Marines,just some drones.Tyrants exist because good people lie to themselves to do nothing.Over 100k people are dead and Assad is just getting started. We should have acted a year ago.

    August 26, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  16. Brad

    Stay out of this one. The US has its hand dirty on the chemical weapons issue, supplying them to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s to use against Iran then pretending to be surprised when he used them against his own people.

    August 26, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  17. Thomas

    Who sold them such weapons ? And do we know who ordered such use ?

    Those who are responsible must be held accountable !

    August 26, 2013 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  18. Carlos

    This is incredible. I cannot believe the US is entertaining the idea of any action whatsoever in Syria.

    Firstly, Assad is doing fairly well, all things considered. I don't think he'd be using chemical weapons while he still has an intact airforce and mobile armor. The guy wants to keep power, and the way to do that is to stay friends with Russia and not upset the UN too much. The only way for him to upset the UN is to use chemical weapons, because so many people have already died there with no UN intervention that the only red line anyone is paying attention to is the use of chemical weapons.

    In other words – dont use sarin, continue to play your game, western powers ignore you. Yay!

    So, co-incidentally, JUST when UN inspectors appear in the country, the Syrian govt uses the only thing that would provoke an international response... Now, unless the country is being run by an intellectual titan like George Bush, I'm pretty sure there would be no reason for Mr Assad to use his stockpile – which if actually used, would probably kill tens of thousands, rather than a couple of hundred.

    This is dirty games by the stalwart defenders of Islam who are terrorists in Iraq, but freedom fighters north of the border – as far as the UN/US are concerned. They are supported by regimes who only view the US as a buyer of their commodities and who sell them V8 SUVs in return.

    So now, with some dodgy footage and without a report or a mandate, the US is going to poke the region that is 100% infested with people who despise it and all that it stands for with a set of surgical strikes...

    If this isn't the dumbest thing I have EVER heard in my life, its gotta be up there.

    PS: The current situation in Syria has no parallel with the Holocaust. At all.

    August 26, 2013 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  19. J.V.Hodgson

    Appetite to put troops on the ground in Syria....?? Why must we??
    Someone needs to explain to me why even if Assad wins, Syria is a clear and present danger and threat to US national security from foreign or domestic sources.
    This is 90 % Muslim fighting Muslim and its happening in Afghanistan, Pakistan certain part of India as well
    Russia and china will not allow Assad deposed.. boots on the ground or whatever = ANOTHER Failed Afghanistan or Iraq.
    We need to stay completely out of wars based on divided religious beliefs of Islam... be it Sunni, Shiite Wahabbi, Talibanic or however driven within " the faith"
    leaving them too their faith makes jihad almost unjustifiable against us. But hear this another 9/11 on US soil and when we have finally and unequivocally determined the nationality of the perpetrators... we will annihilate said nation or nations completely in those areas of each nation we see as the source.
    Hello its war... did the perpetrators of 9/11 consider whether those people wee innocent civilians or not NO, NO
    so stop this garbage in war, of collateral damage, innocent civilians being killed, there has never nor will ever be a war where that occurs!!
    The only solution is to ban wars of any kind ... if you think that's possible you will die a disheartened unhappy person... but you should try to make it so, an so will simple minded stupid me!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    August 26, 2013 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  20. taha mokhtar

    even it was an international action usa will play the major role in attacking al asad forces, so I do not find a need for obama to wait for the rest of the world to move. usa, britain, france, turkey and arabic countries are more than enough

    August 26, 2013 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  21. Anonymous

    I live in the U.K. and will tell you something now ! America does not need this war and as an Englishman with a little boy aged 5 and an 11 yr old girl , i dont want this war either. This is NOT a winnable war for the west. If the U.S. , Britain and our allies go to war in a conflict that pits us against the Russians and Iran we will be severely beaten. Our economies will lie in tatters and our families ripped apart by this. There will NEVER be peace amongst muslims as they are so divided and intolerant of differing beliefs and cultures. Leave well alone please.

    August 26, 2013 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  22. Jeremy

    Damned if we do, dammed if we don't. We hit Syria and the world hates us. We don't hit Syria and the world hates us for not taking action. Good lord, US policy has simply pushed us to the point of a no win situation anywhere. Love be American but it's a sad day to be an American also. Why does it seem that all Middle East countries just enjoy chaos, it's ridiculous.?

    August 26, 2013 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  23. brown

    Americans ...

    If you cannot see the congressional fools you continue to perpetually re-elect are only capabable of
    posturing and fund raising then you deserve the government you have.

    One day they will bring a great war to your doorstep.

    August 26, 2013 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  24. Jim

    Yeah, I think we should attack Syria and next go get their cousins Iran....One at a time but we need to clean all the area eventually and Israel takes care of the rest till we free the world from all the dictators and the islamic djihadists

    August 26, 2013 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  25. Pointman

    We need to focus our attention on places such as Detroit, and clean up problems at home. The problems of crime, drugs, black unemployment and un-safe streets needs our attention.

    August 26, 2013 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
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