WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s confirmation of chemical weapons use in Syria.
“Official confirmation of Assad’s use of chemical weapons heightens the urgency for the U.S. to provide the kind of decisive support, including arms and training, to vetted Syrian opposition groups as soon as possible. While some sources are reporting that a decision may have been made, I want to urge the president to exercise leadership by ensuring that strict safeguards are in place and publicly make the case to the American people for arming moderate forces. Such an effort would embrace the approach passed overwhelmingly by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and would acknowledge the enormous risks for the U.S. and region from the worsening conflict, which could lead to an extremist takeover,” said Corker. “Without proposing direct military intervention, the committee’s bipartisan legislation would help shift the balance in favor of moderate forces who can lead Syria after Assad and prevent further use of chemical weapons. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to advance U.S. interests in Syria.”
On Monday, Corker sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to “begin providing lethal aid to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition” as part of “an overall strategy to strengthen moderate opposition forces in Syria” who could lead Syria after Assad. This approach provides the basis of the Syria Transition Support Act of 2013 (S.960), which passed out of committee on May 21 in a 15-3 vote.