GOP senator: Defeating ISIS is first step in Syria

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCongress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday MORE (R-Wis.) said the United States' first objective in Syria should be defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), before worrying about the Bashar Assad regime.

“We need to defeat ISIS. That’s why I’m saying our first step has got to be to defeat ISIS,” Johnson said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day."

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“When we take out ISIS in Raqqa, it’s really going to be kind of a twofer,” he added.

“We eliminate that caliphate, we end the inspiration, at least the massive amounts of inspiration ISIS has had by existing, and we change the conditions on the ground in Syria.”

President Trump on Wednesday signaled a more aggressive approach to Syria amid reports of a deadly gas attack by forces loyal to Assad.

“It crossed a lot of lines for me,” Trump said at a joint White House press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. "I will tell you, what happened yesterday is unacceptable to me.”

Human rights groups are estimating that 72 people, including 20 children, died Tuesday after a suspected deadly gas attack in the rebel-held province of Idlib.

The attack has provoked international outrage and is being described as the worst chemical weapons attack in Syria in years.

Trump declined to outline his new approach to Syria’s raging civil war Wednesday but has in the past warned against U.S. military involvement there.