Top Lawmakers Mull Syrian Options

An estimated 7,500 Syrians have been killed by President Bashar Assad’s military during the past year, a fact that has led Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to call for U.S.-led air strikes to stop the slaughter of unarmed civilians being carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying: “Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives.” Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), followed by issuing a statement backing the Arizona Senator’s position on Syria.

Before risking a single American soldier’s life in Syria, the first question we should ask when it comes to using our military is, “Is it in America’s interest? And secondly what is the risk and what is to be gained by such actions?

Speaking on the subject before a Senate panel recently Marine General James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, warned of the potential threats from the deteriorating situation in Syria. The General warned that President Bashar Assad’s regime has a “substantial” chemical and biological weapons capability and thousands of shoulder-launched missiles.

Remember what happened not long ago, when Libya fell, much of their stockpile of portable anti-aircraft missiles went missing and are believed to have crossed borders. The stash of Russian-made Grinch SA-24 and SA-7 surface-to-air missiles were reported missing along with mortars and artillery rounds from a Tripoli weapons warehouse. Experts say the shoulder-launched weapons, which can fit in the trunk of a car, can take down a commercial jet. Since 1975, similar weapons have been used in attacks on at least 40 aircraft, causing 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths.

Assad has continually said his country was clearly being targeted by outside forces seeking to undermine his regime, blaming the one-year revolt threatening his regime on what he calls, foreign-backed “terrorist gangs.” He might be at least partially right. According to an Iraqi intelligence official al-Qaeda-linked fighters have been flowing from Iraq to Syria, and the groups leader, Ayman al-Zawahri has called on Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the uprising against Assad’s regime. Consider that potential if a non-state terrorist group(s) like al-Qaeda was able to secure Syria’s cache of chemical and bio-weapons in the midst of chaos and an apparent lack of security or custody of these weapons.

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