Menendez supports U.S. military strike in Syria

 U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., spoke at a Camden bike lane ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., spoke at a Camden bike lane ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A lawmaker from New Jersey wants the U.S. to act in Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said the use of the internationally banned weapons impacts American national security interests and sends a dangerous message. 

Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said his support for significant U.S. force does not come lightly. 

“As someone who voted against the war in Iraq, I don’t take military action easily in terms of advocating for it,” he said. “But in this case, it is pretty evident to me from the intelligence that has been gathered, that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on innocent civilians.”

And that, Menendez said, raises an important question: “Whether or not we will send a global message that the use of chemical weapons in violation of international law will be met and cannot stand and will have a consequence — a severe consequence.”

President Barack Obama signaled this week that the U.S. is moving toward a punitive strike, saying he has “concluded” that Assad’s regime is behind the attacks and that there “need to be international consequences.”

Failure to respond to the suspected chemical gas attack that killed more than 300, Menendez said, could set a dangerous precedent and risk a future attack against American troops.

“The exercise has to be one that is really consequential to the regime … that ultimately takes out military targets or takes out critical generation facilities, critical traffic points,” Menendez said.

The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than two years. An estimated 100,000 have been killed in the fighting.

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