U.S. lawmakers, including some from California, released statements and/or took to social media Thursday night in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to order military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
In speaking to the nation, Trump said he ordered the attack Thursday on the Al-Shayrat Air Base in Syria in retaliation for Assad’s use of nerve agents on his own people.
“Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Trump said in a statement to the nation. “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.
“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” the president said.
While several lawmakers applauded the president’s decision, some were less supportive.
Rep. Scott Peters (D), who represents San Diego’s 52nd District, issued a statement.
“The chemical attack this week was the latest in a long line of brutal atrocities committed against the Syrian people by Bashar al-Assad – it warranted a response,” he said.
“However, I am concerned that President Trump would launch an attack unilaterally without consulting the legislative branch. Congress has not provided the authority to conduct war against the Syrian government. Going forward, the President owes it to Congress and the American people to inform them of the larger strategy in Syria and any future military actions,” Peters continued.
“I look forward to working collaboratively with the President and Congress to hold Assad accountable for his actions, end the war in Syria, and provide for humane treatment of the refugees from this tragedy and tyranny,” he added.
Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat who represents California’s 13th District in the East Bay area, said on Twitter the U.S. strikes are “an act of war” and that lawmakers should return to Washington from their two-week recess.
“Congress needs to come back into session and hold a debate. Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility,” she said.
The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, Rep. Ed Royce, who represents California’s 39th District, supported the strikes. His district stretches from northern Orange County and into San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.
“Assad was warned, repeatedly, by the U.S. and the U.N. that the intentional targeting of innocent men, women and children is intolerable,” Royce, a Republican, said in a statement. “Now Assad has been caught red-handed carrying out another abhorrent chemical attack, and the administration has taken a measured response. Moving ahead, the administration must work with Congress and lay out clear policy goals for Syria and the region.”
According to Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the U.S. strike took place at about 8:40 p.m. EDT and was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
A total of 59 missiles targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars, he said.
“We are assessing the results of the strike,” Davis said in a statement. “Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.”
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