Lawmakers react to air strikes against Syrian base

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senators from Ohio have issued statements after the U.S. conducted air strikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week.

**See a timeline of events leading up to Thursday’s airstrikes**

On President Donald Trump’s orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said.

The strike is the first direct military action taken by the US against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war. It represents a substantial escalation of the US military campaign in the region, and could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war.

Six people were killed in the airstrike, according to a televised statement by the Syrian’s Armed Forces General Command.

In his statement, Sen. Rob Portman (R) said:

“Our men and women in uniform carried out this military strike with precision and skill, and I applaud their courage and bravery. It was appropriate to hold Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad accountable for his cruel and illegal use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, including women and children. The Assad regime clearly violated the 2013 Russian-led agreement at the United Nations requiring Syria to turn over all its chemical weapons.

“We now need a comprehensive strategy with clearly-defined purpose and objectives for how we achieve our national security goals in Syria and the region. As I have said before, only a coordinated and comprehensive effort by the United States and our allies will help bring an end to the refugee crisis, as well as the violence and devastation that has plagued Syria and the Middle East. As a Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I intend to continue to engage with the Trump administration and my colleagues in the Senate to help flesh out the appropriate American strategy.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) said the following:

“Last night’s missile strike appears to be a proportional response for Assad’s brutal killing of innocent civilians, but there are still unanswered questions, including how the strike will impact American forces on the ground fighting ISIS and what this means for long-term military engagement in Syria. President Trump needs to come up with a strategy to resolve the Syrian conflict, share his plans with the American people and win their support before taking further action.

“Secretary Tillerson is scheduled to travel to Moscow next week, and he and President Trump need to use this Administration’s close ties with Russia to pressure President Putin to step up and curtail further indiscriminate killing of Syrian civilians.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur released this statement:

“The use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime is the latest in a desperate and violent war that Assad is waging on his own people. Neither Congress nor the American people know the full extent of how this Trump Administration action was planned and executed. We do know the Assad regime in Syria consistently commits horrendous atrocities against its own people, but the U.S. bombing of a Syrian airbase unilaterally, undertaken outside a global coalition to remove the Assad regime, is a high-risk action that could cause terrorist retaliation against U.S. targets anywhere in the world.

“There is no doubt that our troops are ready to complete any task that is before them, and the U.S. must fight tyranny and oppression, but Congress needs to have a say. We shouldn’t rush headstrong into conflict, and as a Nation, we must always weigh the consequences of such action. I urge President Trump to consult with Congress to seek authorization and consult with the American people before any further action in Syria.”

Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich traveled to Syria on a fact finding trip in January and met with President Bashar al-Assad. Kucinich also conducted a 2013 interview with Assad in which the Syrian leader promised to destroy his chemical weapons, as agreed to under a deal brokered by Russia.

Kucinich called the U.S. airstrike an overreach of presidential power and illegal under international law.

“We have to be very careful about this interventionism because it’s wrong; it’s illegal and it could get us into a wider war,” Kucinich said Friday from London, where he said he appeared at a parliamentary briefing on Syria and a conference about Syria.

He said it was still unclear who carried out the gas attack, which the Trump administration has blamed on the Syrian regime.

“I don’t condone any kind of attack using any kind of weapons on civilians,” Kucinich said. “But we better be very careful before we start expanding this war.”

Read more here. 

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