(CNN) - The United States should not take action in Syria, because it would appear to be siding with an opposition force that has extremist elements, Sen. Rand Paul said Monday in the debut of CNN's new "Crossfire."
"We've seen priests beheaded by the Islamic rebels...We've also seen an Islamic rebel eating the heart of a soldier. So it's not like there's no atrocity on the other side, and al Qaeda is on the other side," he said. "I can't conceive of how we would go in and be allies with al Qaeda."
The Kentucky Republican has been a vocal opponent to President Barack Obama's August 31 proposal to take military action in Syria following the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against the opposition.
For his part, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, argued he's not calling for the U.S. to align with al Qaeda but said there are "vetted elements of the Syrian opposition that we believe...would largely share our values."
"If you just sit back and say 'you know what, there's no consequences to the use of chemical weapons. Go kill another 1,400. Go kill another 14,000,' at what point do the consequences of those actions not only send a message in Syria, but globally we want the Ayatollah in Iran to head our message," he said. "We want the dictator of North Korea to understand 'Do not cross a line' as well. This is, I think, even beyond Assad."
Menendez is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, which passed an authorization resolution last week to grant authorization to the president. Paul is also a member of the committee but voted against the resolution.