WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he believed the U.S. air strikes on a Syrian air base, retaliation for a chemical attack earlier in the week that killed more than 80 civilians in northern Syrian, are “justified.”
With the Tuesday attack in Idlib Province using sarin, a banned nerve agent, Manchin said Syria made clear it “flouted” international obligations to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention by destroying chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities.
“They definitely did not do that,” Manchin said. “Russia was taking the lead to verify that those weapons had been disposed of. They were not.”
A member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Manchin was a guest on MetroNews “Talkline” soon after a Friday briefing on Capitol Hill on the military action that President Donald Trump announced on Thursday night.
In all, 59 missiles were launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter located in the Mediterranean Sea, according to national reports.
“I think it was a strategic strike. It sends a strong message,” Manchin said of the U.S. response. “What we did last night (Thursday) was something that probably needed to be done.”
On Friday, as the U.N. Security Council was meeting, Russia suspended an agreement on military cooperation with the U.S. for air operations in Syria while Syrian government officials continued to deny responsibility for the sarin attack.
In a statement, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) commended President Trump for “taking swift and decisive action against the Assad regime.”
“I was deeply shaken by the terrible images of innocent men, women and children suffering from such an inhumane attack,” Capito said.
“The use of chemical weapons on innocent people cannot be ignored, and I am encouraged to see that after years of indecisiveness and inaction from the previous administration, that President Trump has decided to stand up against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”
First District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.) agreed.
“The world’s worst dictators must not be allowed to use the world’s most dangerous weapons. Bashar al-Assad and Russia need to realize that the United States will no longer tolerate the use of WMDs to kill innocent men, women, and children,” McKinley said in a statement.
As the situation develops, Manchin said he believed President Trump should seek Congressional approval before moving forward with any potential direct military intervention in Syria.
He said he is not in favor of putting “thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands” of U.S. military members on the ground.
At this point, the Pentagon has confirmed fewer than 1,000 American military members are in Syria.
“You have to learn from your lessons (in the Middle East), but still yet, you can’t just be idly standing by, watching these atrocities happen and the superpower of the world does nothing,” Manchin said.