McCain, Graham applaud Syrian airstrikes

McCain, Graham applaud Syrian airstrikes
© Greg Nash

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general Graham demands testimony from former FBI acting Director McCabe MORE (R-S.C.) applauded President Trump for launching airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, saying he “confronted a pivotal moment” unlike former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaIntelligence for the days after President Trump leaves office Barack Obama sends Valentine's message to Michelle: 'She does get down to Motown' For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love MORE.

“Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action,” they said in a joint statement. “For that, he deserves the support of the American people.”

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Trump on Thursday ordered missiles fired at a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack officials say Syrian President Bashar Assad launched that killed more than 70 civilians.

The decision to take military action against Assad is a dramatic escalation in U.S. involvement in the 6-year-old civil war, which the U.S. military has never directly intervened in. It was also a notable departure for Trump, who has said he didn't want to pull the U.S. deeper into the conflict.

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham, a committee member and close McCain ally, had earlier Thursday urged action to ground the Syrian air force, including striking airfields.

On Thursday night, after the strikes, they said the action sent an important message.

“We salute the skill and professionalism of the U.S. Armed Forces who carried out tonight’s strikes in Syria,” they said in a written statement. “Acting on the orders of their commander-in-chief, they have sent an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad ... slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs.”

They also urged Trump to build on Thursday’s strikes to create a new strategy for Syria and continue work to completely ground Assad’s air force.

“The first measure in such a strategy must be to take Assad’s air force — which is responsible not just for the latest chemical weapons attack, but countless atrocities against the Syrian people — completely out of the fight,” they said.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also issued a brief statement Thursday night supporting the strikes.

"I support the President's decision to take military action in Syria,” he wrote. “My hope is that this action will help deter future atrocities by the Assad regime."