Former outspoken Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich has warned that a US military attack against Syria could become “World War Three.”
He lashed out at the administration of President Barack Obama for “rushing” into a war based on questionable evidence.
The Syrian opposition accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus last week, an allegation that many say has turned into a “casus belli” for US military intervention.
“This is being used as a pretext,” Kucinich said in an interview with The Hill. “The verdict is in before the facts have been gathered. What does that tell you?”
UN inspectors are in Syria to determine whether chemical weapons were used in the attack but have yet to release their report.
Kucinich, who voted against the Iraq war, also argued that airstrikes on Syria would turn the US military into “al-Qaeda's air force.”
“So what, we're about to become al-Qaeda's air force now?” Kucinich said. “This is a very, very serious matter that has broad implications internationally. And to try to minimize it by saying we're just going to have a 'targeted strike' - that's an act of war. It's not anything to be trifled with.”
On Tuesday, senior US officials said the Obama administration has plans to launch missile strikes against Syria “as early as Thursday.”
The US has beefed up its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Several nuclear-powered submarines are reportedly in the waters near Syria, also cruise-missile equipped.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reiterated that the US military is ready attack Syria should President Obama give the green light.
According to Kucinich, Obama would be violating the Constitution if he does not get congressional approval before taking any military action against Syria. Congress is on summer recess until September 9.
Commenting on the alleged chemical attack, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that "suggestions that there's any doubt about who's responsible for this are as preposterous as suggestions that the attack itself didn't occur."
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said on Wednesday that the UN Security Council should wait for inspectors to present their report on the alleged gas attack.
"It would be premature, at the least, to discuss any Security Council reaction until the UN inspectors working in Syria present their report," Titov said.
Analysts say US claims about Syria are similar to the discredited intelligence on weapons of mass destruction that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.