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US lawmakers urge caution after Trump orders strikes on Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this image released by the US Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Several members of Congress urged caution after US President Donald Trump ordered a massive missile strike against a Syrian government airbase, saying he needs congressional authority for military action.

Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, condemned the operation as “an act of war.”

"This is an act of war. Congress needs to come back into session & hold a debate. Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility," Lee, the only member of Congress who opposed congressional authority for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, wrote on Twitter.

Several other Democrats said the Trump administration should have consulted with Congress before ordering the attack.

The US military launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against several targets on al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province early Friday.

Rep. Barbara Lee (file photo)

The operation came after the US and its Western allies blamed the government of President Bashar al-Assad for a deadly chemical weapons attack this week in Idlib province. The Syrian government has strongly denied responsibility.

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Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer offered measured support for the operation, but cautioned the president should not act without approval from Congress.

However, he added, “It is incumbent on the Trump administration to come up with a strategy and consult with Congress before implementing it. I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today,” the New York Democrat said in a statement.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, warned that military action could not force the Syrian president out of office.

"I fully concur that the regime has to go, because as long as Assad is there that fighting is going to go on, that terrible war is going to go on," the California lawmaker said on an MSNBC program. "But this is not something that can be accomplished via the air at a standoff location."

A number of Republicans also voiced concerns about the lack of congressional authority.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, opposed the missile strike because the US has not been attacked by Syria and questioned the constitutionality of the military action.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (C) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on March 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

"While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked," Paul said. "The president needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate."

"Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different," the senator added.

Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, invoked a 2013 tweet from Trump, arguing that former President Barack Obama "must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria," to criticize the missile strikes.



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