Tags: Syria | rubio | assad | syria | gas bombs | americans

Rubio: Assad Would Use Gas Bombs on Americans

("CBS This Morning")

By    |   Friday, 07 Apr 2017 08:46 AM

Syria does not have the potential to launch airstrikes on the United States directly to retaliate for strikes hitting one of its airfields Thursday, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could hit back against American advisers on the ground in that country, Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said Friday.

"You do have hundreds of American advisers on the ground," the Florida Republican told the "CBS This Morning" program. "If Assad is willing to use gas on his own people, he probably would use it on American people."

The United States also does not know what Russia will do in response, said Rubio, while agreeing that the airstrikes were both legal and important.

"So far, it seems pretty measured, but I certainly think if there's an effort to remove Assad, they're going to get a little more aggressive," said Rubio.

The Syrian leader would need to be removed by a combination of Syrian rebel forces on the ground, not by foreign military, said Rubio.

"This reminds me of one those cage matches in professional wrestling. Sometimes you fight each other and sometimes you turn on someone else.

"You have Hezbollah, Iran, Syrian forces, rebel groups that are non-jihadist and Al Nusra. Ultimately, you are to have a Sunni non-jihadist alternative and I hope the work begins to carve out a space for them to be able to grow and get more powerful so they can be a clear alternative to Assad, whatever happens."

Assad, Rubio continued, is a "war criminal, and should be brought to international justice," but he believes that the sentiment is out there that the United States has given up efforts to remove him from office.

"I do believe it gave him license or incentive to get away with something like this," Rubio said of the chemical attacks earlier this week. "I'm glad to see that changed."

The senator, also appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," told anchor George Stephanopoulos that the airfield that was hit has "strong strategic value," and that Trump not only had the right, but the "obligation to take action."

Further, he said, some of the aircraft that was destroyed were the ones used in the chemical weapons bombing.

"I do think it achieves an important measure," said Rubio. "It will not degrade his entire capability to do some of this, especially as the Russians continue to support him, but certainly not just less capable but less willing this morning to do that sort of activity because his cost benefit analysis just changed."

Ultimately, the long-term strategy will need to involve removing Assad and defeating the Islamic State and al-Qaida, the senator said.

"As long as Assad is there, you're going to have a radical Sunni group whether it's al-Qaida or ISIS or somebody else, and so as long as Assad is there, you are going to have terrorism emanating from Syria," Rubio told Stephanopoulos.

Trump, meanwhile was authorized to conduct the airstrike without coming first to Congress, said Rubio.

"Obviously this is going to be a broader long-term conflict, [so] it is important he comes to Congress, because we need to pay for it," said Rubio.

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The senator told NBC's "Today" show that the airstrikes had a "clear military objective, to degrade a specific airfield."

"The destroyed facility was the one that's most active right now in that conflict for the Assad regime," said Rubio. "The airfield in Syria, which was the one that was used to conduct a chemical attack a few days ago.

"In the process of destroying that airfield, they took out aircraft that were used in that mission. That had a clear objective. And they put the appropriate resources in order to achieve that."

Russia was able to move some people out of the strike zone, Rubio said, as the objective "was not to kill Russians or Syrian troops. It was to degrade the facility."

"If Russians had been killed, we would have a different situation this morning," said Rubio. "If Russians were killed, they have no one to blame but themselves."

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Also appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Rubio said that Syria has become an "ungoverned space" where radical elements can operate, and here must be an "appetite" to become involved.

"Assad will never again be able to govern a unified Syria as we once knew it," said Rubio. "You saw the images of these people carrying their children to the grave. They will never accept Assad as their rightful ruler.

"They will do one of two things: leave, or join whichever group is the best armed to kill and remove Assad, and that's where radicalism begins on grow."

The Syrian leader is "fighting for survival," Rubio told CNN's "New Day" program.

"He knows if he is removed from power, he is going to be before the Hague for war crimes," said Rubio.

"The Russians care about having a presence. It is the largest military presence outside of Russia . . . everybody has a different interest in there. Our interest is to make sure it is not an ungoverned space. That's our interest. That is our deep national security interest."

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Syria does not have the potential to launch airstrikes on the United States directly to retaliate for strikes hitting one of its airfields Thursday, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could hit back against American advisers on the ground...
rubio, assad, syria, gas bombs, americans
Friday, 07 Apr 2017 08:46 AM
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