Senators pledge 'full support' for 'decisive' military action in Syria

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 MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGOP senator blocks Armenian genocide resolution The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Senate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters MORE (D-N.J.) and Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinRemembering leaders who put country above party Strange bedfellows oppose the filibuster Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home MORE (D-Mich.), wrote in a letter to Obama along with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLessons of the Kamala Harris campaign Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases MORE (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.”

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The White House announced Thursday that it has concluded that Assad's forces have used chemical weapons several times, crossing Obama's red line. White House officials said the administration would respond by giving vetted rebel groups “military assistance,” but Obama has not specified what that means and made it clear in an interview Monday that he would not rush into a decision.

“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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