By Kevin Bogardus - 09/03/13 08:43 PM EDT
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has swung its considerable political influence behind President Obama’s call on Congress to back military strikes against Syria.
AIPAC, one of Washington’s most prominent pro-Israel groups, said in a statement Tuesday that it urges lawmakers to grant the president “the authority he has requested to protect America’s national security interests and dissuade the Syrian regime's further use of unconventional weapons.”
The pro-Israel group said this was “a critical moment” to send a message to Iran and terrorist group Hezbollah, who have aided Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
“Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country's credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country’s security and interests and those of our regional allies,” AIPAC said.
Until now, the organization has been noticeably silent as the Obama administration has made the case to strike the Assad regime. The president and others in his administration have argued that Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people cannot be ignored.
Syria has been engulfed in a bloody civil war for more than two years, with roughly more than 110,000 Syrians estimated having died in the conflict. Assad has not listened to calls from the international community to step down from power.
Along with AIPAC, Obama received crucial backing from senior Republicans, like Speaker John Boehner, on Tuesday to strike Syria.
“AIPAC maintains that it is imperative to adopt the resolution to authorize the use of force, and take a firm stand that the world’s most dangerous regimes cannot obtain and use the most dangerous weapons,” AIPAC said.