Top Armed Services Dem cautions against Syria military strike

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday warned military strikes on Syria may not improve the crisis there and could drag the United States deeper into the conflict.

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Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he was concerned about the effectiveness of a military strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces as a response to accusations his regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds last week.

“Simply lashing out with military force under the banner of ‘doing something’ will not secure our interests in Syria,” Smith said in a statement after visiting the Syria-Jordan border.

“Military action could have significant consequences and there is no guarantee that it would improve the situation or promote a positive outcome. Any potential use of military force will have long-term costs and will put our troops in harm’s way,” he said.

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Smith also highlighted the presence of al Qaeda-affiliated groups within the Syrian opposition, a frequent issue raised by opponents of U.S. intervention in Syria.

He called for an increase in both non-military and military aid to moderate elements within the Syrian opposition, but cautioned: “We should be under no illusion that such aid will significantly influence the outcome of the struggle against Assad.”

Smith’s comments take a more skeptical approach to possible military action in Syria than other Democratic leaders, such as Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (Mich.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who have only said they are consulting with the administration and not weighed in on a possible strike.