Democrats and Republicans alike have urged the President to consult Congress before entering into another armed conflict.
The U.S. could begin missile strikes on Syria as early as Thursday, according to senior U.S. officials who spoke with NBC news. The “three days” of strikes reportedly would be aimed at sending a message to Syria’s President Bashar Assad rather than disabling military capabilities.
Despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s claims that there is now “undeniable” evidence that Syria’s government had used chemical weapons to kill its own people, a number of countries have questioned this account and urged the U.S. to wait until the United Nations has thoroughly investigated and issued a report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
“We’re on the brink of the beginning of an open war against Syria. We’re not going to abandon the Syrian people,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at an event in Caracas on Saturday, according to reports by Venezuela Analysis. “In any case, we should await the [U.N.] investigation.”
Similarly, Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, claims that no concrete evidence has surfaced about the attack or who was responsible for it. Damascus denies any role in the attack, which occurred while United Nations inspectors were in the country to investigate smaller-scale chemical attacks that allegedly happened in March and April.
Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Moallem denied that the government carried out chemical weapons attacks Tuesday, claiming that Washington’s allegations were “utterly false” according to GlobalPost.
The U.N. has not issued a report on the incident, but Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reports that Damascus has observed a ceasefire, allowing U.N. investigators to gather evidence.
“The whole world should be concerned about any threat or use of chemical weapons. And that is why the world is watching Syria,” Ban said in a statement to NBC News on Monday.
Chemical warfare is banned by several international treaties, including the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1993, which the majority of countries in the world support. Syria is one of a handful of countries that is not party to the treaty.
In the U.S., many Democrats and Republicans alike have urged the President to consult Congress before entering into another armed conflict. USA Today reports that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) supports further dialogue before military action.
“The speaker made clear that before any action is taken, there must be meaningful consultation with members of Congress, as well as clearly defined objectives and a broader strategy to achieve stability,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement.
The point was echoed by some Democrats, including Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) who tweeted Tuesday,
While the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Congress needs to have a full debate.
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) August 27, 2013
Despite calls for restraint from the international community and members of the U.S. Congress, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel underscored reports of an impending attack, announcing that the U.S. military was “ready to go.” U.S. naval ships were moved off the coast of Syria last week in preparation for a possible strike.