Delaware Senator Chris Coons has released the following statement regarding developments in Syria and announcements by the Obama Administration:
“For more than two years, President Assad has carried out increasingly outrageous and deadly attacks on civilians in his own country, using helicopters, jet fighters, cluster bombs and Scud missiles in hundreds of documented attacks against schools, hospitals, bread lines and residential neighborhoods. More than 100,000 Syrians have died and millions have become refugees in what is a complex and increasingly violent civil war. In two years of vigilant diplomatic efforts, the U.S. has called for Assad’s departure, recognized opposition leaders as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, and provided humanitarian and military support to vetted elements of the opposition. I have supported these actions as reasonable efforts by the Administration to bring an end to a tragic and inhumane war.
“Earlier today, I joined more than a dozen senators who serve on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees in an open and constructive 90-minute-long discussion with senior representatives from the White House, State Department, Defense Department and the intelligence community. I welcome the Administration’s active consultation with Congress and our nation’s allies as President Obama weighs a range of options for responding to the deadly chemical weapons attack in Damascus nine days ago that killed more than 1,400 civilians, including more than 400 children. The Administration has shared classified and unclassified reports today laying out detailed evidence that the Assad regime is solely responsible for the attack, which I am reviewing in detail and discussing with my colleagues in Congress.
“I have heard from many Delawareans who, after more than a decade of war, are understandably concerned about the risk of being pulled further into this conflict. The significant potential consequences of direct military intervention for our country, for our allies, and for the entire region require us to weigh our options carefully and for the Administration to consult with Congress on potential actions. We must also consider the security impact on our regional allies, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, in the event that the conflict widens and the flood of Syrian refugees into their countries grows.
“Congress has repeatedly condemned and acted to outlaw the use of chemical weapons, and I believe it is in the national security interest of the United States to take decisive action to respond to this attack and attempt to deter the future use of chemical weapons, whether in Syria or elsewhere in the world. Our actions – or inaction – will be watched closely by President Assad, as well as by his sponsors in Russia and Iran, and our failure to act would send a message of impunity for heinous human rights violations.
“I agree with President Obama that the United States should not consider an open-ended military commitment in Syria. The cautious manner in which the Administration has gathered and reviewed the evidence against the Assad regime reflects a clear commitment to preventing a repeat of the costly intelligence failures of the past. I, too, will carefully consider the potential consequences of our actions, and will weigh the input of Delawareans and the evidence presented by the Administration and the United Nations.”
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