The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 6, 2013

Manchin won’t support military action against Syrian regime

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that he believes a military strike against Syria at this time is “the wrong course of action.”

President Barack Obama has been pressing the U.S. Congress for its authorization of a military strike against Syria President Bashar Assad’s regime, but Manchin said it is something he cannot support.

“In good conscience, I cannot support the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution and will be working with my colleagues and the administration to develop other options,” Manchin said.

“I believe that we must exhaust all diplomatic options and have a comprehensive plan for international involvement before we act.”

Manchin said over the past week he has attended a number of hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I have attended classified briefings by the administration and have met with national security and foreign policy experts from the leading think tanks and universities around the country. I have spoken with current and former military and administration officials.”

He said he “sought out as much information as possible,” and this was “one of the most serious decisions I have ever made.”

The conflict began in March 2011 as largely peaceful demonstrations against Assad’s rule; however, after opposition supporters took up arms to fight a brutal government crackdown on dissent, it turned into a civil war.

Nearly 7 million people have been uprooted from their homes and more than 100,000 people have been killed.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos met with Syrian government officials in the capital, lobbying for access to civilians trapped in areas where fighting has raged, but after meeting with the president of the Syrian Arab Red Cresent, Amos said she is “extremely concerned the situation on the ground is becoming worse.”

After an alleged chemical attack near Damascus in August, Obama has been lobbying for international and domestic support for punishing the regime, which the U.S. says fired rockets loaded with the nerve agent sarin on rebel-held areas and killed hundreds of people.

Obama has won little international support for action, and among major allies, only France has offered publicly to join the U.S. in a strike.

The Associated Press Contributed to this

article.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com