The United States' allies in the Middle East have to accept that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can no longer remain in power following this week's deadly chemical weapon bombings, as he is creating a brutal environment that makes it easier for ISIS to recruit followers, Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Thursday.
"There are not a lot of options in Syria," the Illinois deputy Republican whip told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.
"Every day that goes by, those options become less. At least in the short term, we have never held frankly much less as a country. Chemical weapons have had no place on the battlefield since World War I, with the exception of this conflict."
Kinzinger said he was impressed by President Donald Trump's words on Wednesday, when he admitted that the attack has changed his views about Assad.
"I saw a man that really said, look, I thought a week ago I felt differently than Assad," said Kinzinger, and that Trump said he bears responsibility for handling the nation's response.
And at the bare minimum, said Kinzinger, it must be made clear that chemical weapons must not be used, and then to make it clear to allies in the region that Assad must go.
"Assad is creating this brutal environment" said Kinzinger. "I think it will make it easier for ISIS to recruit. If you are a 10-year-old kid, and your dad was killed by somebody, you see ISIS as the only kind of opponent to Bashar al-Assad."
The congressman said he would also like to see long-term humanitarian safe zones, and a no-fly zone enforced by the United States — and "ultimately, there will need to be a ground force."
The ground troops do not need to be American troops, Kinzinger said, as the nation's Middle East allies have agreed to do it.
Trump also has the power to take action, such as airstrikes or building a coalition, without coming to Congress to declare war, said Kinzinger.
He also believes the United States can come to negotiated settlement in Syria, but Assad will have tough choice.
"Assad has to know the alternative to him stepping away from power, finding sanctuary from someone like Russia," said Kinzinger. "They seem to love him. The alternative is, he may die."
Kinzinger said he advocates, in the early stages, destroying airfields, taking down Assad's missile defenses and hitting command and control modes in Damascus, which would serve by "effectively decapitating Assad from his field of forces."
"If there are Russians in those areas, frankly, that is on them," said Kinzinger. "Look, the Russians made a decision to back a guy that used chemical weapons. If I was the Russians, I would get out of there. You have the eye of the world coming down on you."
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