Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey renewed his call for U.S. intervention in Syria now that the White House has said decisively that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
"The time for U.S. action is overdue," Casey said in a statement. "Assad must go, but this will not happen without decisive leadership from the United States."
Casey, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has consistently supported a stronger U.S. response to international incidents than the Obama administration. In April, he told The Morning Call that while he wasn't advocating for U.S. soldiers on the ground in Syria, he did support surface-to-surface missile strikes to weaken the Syrian's air force.
At that time the White House was still gathering evidence about whether Assad was using chemical weapons. On Thursday, the administration announced that it had concluded chemical weapons had been used and for the first time the U.S. would be sending weapons to arm the Syrian rebels.
Casey warned that without the aid of the United States, those in the region who support terrorism will win.
"If the U.S. is not prepared to provide more robust assistance then I fear that the moderate opposition forces will be defeated," Casey said in his statement. "The U.S. should move swiftly to shift the balance on the ground in Syria by considering grounding the Syrian air force with stand-off weapons and protecting a safe zone in northern Syria with Patriot missiles in Turkey."
The White House made clear in a statement that U.S. assistance to the Syrian rebels will continue to be stepped up.
"The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States, as there has long been an established norm within the international community against the use of chemical weapons," said Ben Rhodes, deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. "Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward."
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun