By Julian Pecquet - 06/18/13 09:46 PM EDT
Senators from both parties on Tuesday urged President Obama to immediately send weapons to the Syrian opposition and take out President Bashar Assad's air forces.
Syria is at a “critical juncture” and the United States must do what it can to reverse Assad's recent gains on the ground, the chairmen of the Foreign Relations and Armed Forces panels, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), wrote in a letter to Obama along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The senators pledged their “full support” if Obama takes “decisive military actions in Syria.”
The lawmakers called on the president to send arms to vetted rebel groups, but said such a move would likely be insufficient because the situation is “deteriorating so dramatically.”
“We must also degrade Assad’s ability to use air power and ballistic missiles against civilian populations and opposition forces in Syria,” they wrote. “Such actions could include the targeting of regime airfields, runways, and aircraft on the ground, which would also limit Assad’s ability to transport and resupply his ground forces and those of his allies by air.
“Finally, as part of this military effort, we encourage you to take steps to support the Syrian political and military opposition in creating and defending safe zones inside Syria where they can better organize and unify their efforts.”
“I’m ramping up support for both the political and military opposition. I’ve not specified exactly what we’re doing, and I won’t do so on this show,” he told PBS's Charlie Rose. “I will preserve every option available to me and continually make assessments about what's in the interests of the United States.”
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