Sanders: Syria strikes could lead to Middle East quagmire
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Progressive group launches campaign to identify voters who switch to Warren MORE (I-Vt.) is voicing skepticism about the Trump administration's missile strike in Syria, warning the move could escalate into a years-long commitment from the United States.

"I’m deeply concerned that these strikes could lead to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement in the Middle East," Sanders said in a statement.

He added that in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Americans know "that it’s easier to get into a war than get out of one."

Sanders repeatedly touted his opposition to the Iraq War during his failed bid last year for the Democratic presidential nomination against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 MORE.

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The Trump administration launched missiles Thursday night at a military air base in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians that U.S. and other Western officials have attributed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.S. strike killed at least seven people.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated Thursday that the strikes showed Trump taking "decisive action" following the use of chemical weapons but that they didn't signal a broader change in U.S. policy on Syria.

"I would not in any way attempt to extrapolate that to a change in our policy or posture relative to our military activities in Syria today. There has been no change in that status," he said.

"I think it does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line and cross the line on violating commitments they've made and cross the line in the most heinous of ways." 

Sanders said Friday that Assad is a "war criminal" and the United States should work with the international community to help stop the years-long Syrian civil war.

“The US must work with all parties to reinforce longstanding international norms against the use of chemical weapons, to hold Russia and Syria to the 2013 deal to destroy these weapons and to see that violators are made accountable," he said.

Sanders, echoing lawmakers in both parties, also called on Trump to come to Congress, explain his strategy and seek authorization before taking additional military action against Assad.

“The Trump administration must explain to the American people exactly what this military escalation in Syria is intended to achieve, and how it fits into the broader goal of a political solution, which is the only way Syria’s devastating civil war ends," he said.

He added that Congress "has a responsibility to weigh in" on using military force against the Syrian government.

"As the Constitution requires, the president must come to Congress to authorize any further use of force against the Assad regime," he said.