McCain, Graham call for grounding of Syrian air force

McCain, Graham call for grounding of Syrian air force
© Greg Nash

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPublisher announces McSally book planned for May release Democrats lead Trump by wide margins in Minnesota Here's what to watch this week on impeachment MORE and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE on Thursday called for an international effort to ground Syrian aircraft following outrage over a suspected chemical weapons attack carried out by Syria’s government.

“The message from the United States must be that this will not stand,” McCain (R-Ariz.) and Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement. “We must show that no foreign power can or will protect Assad now. He must pay a punitive cost for this horrific attack.”

CNN reported Thursday that President Trump has told several lawmakers he's considering military action in Syria.

Trump last week backed off of putting any pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad, but in a complete turnaround Wednesday, he signaled a mores aggressive approach to the country amid reports of the deadly chemical attack, described as the worst in years.

McCain and Graham wrote that the United States should lead an international coalition to ground Assad's air force, in addition to other measures, and it should be part of a new comprehensive strategy to end the Syrian civil war.

“This capability provides Assad a strategic advantage in his brutal slaughter of innocent civilians, both through the use of chemical weapons as well as barrel bombs,” they write.

“The U.S. military, together with our allies and partners, has the capability to achieve this objective quickly, precisely, decisively, and in ways that control escalation.”

They add that the chemical attack that killed at least 72 civilians, including 20 children, is “a test of the new administration.”

“There is plenty that Democrats and Republicans in Washington disagree on. But in this instance, we must show the world that we are still capable of putting aside our differences and doing the right thing. If the President is willing to take the necessary action, he deserves broad bipartisan support, and we will help build it.”