US Senator McCain: Congress' rejecting use of force in Syria would be catastrophic
WASHINGTON - Reuters
Before U.S. Senator McCain's remarks, French intelligence report was released by French officials that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a "massive and coordinated" chemical attack on Aug. 21. AP photoU.S. Senator John McCain said on Monday that a vote by the U.S. Congress against President Obama's proposal for using military force in Syria would be catastrophic.
"If the Congress were to reject a resolution like this after the president of the United States has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic," McCain told reporters after a meeting with the president at the White House.
McCain, a Republican, said he was encouraged by the meeting but that the administration still had a "long way to go" to get the resolution passed.
French intelligence: Assad forces conducted a 'massive and coordinated' chemical attack
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a "massive and coordinated" chemical attack on Aug. 21, according to a declassified French intelligence report released on Monday, a French government source told Reuters.
The nine-page document - issued by external and military intelligence services and to be presented to lawmakers later on Monday - lays out five points that suggest Assad was behind the attacks. "This poses a major threat to national and global security," the source said.
The intelligence includes satellite imagery showing the attacks coming from government-controlled areas to the east and west of Damascus and targeting rebel-held zones. The source said Assad's forces had since bombed the areas to wipe out evidence.
"Unlike previous attacks that used small amounts of chemicals and were aimed at terrorising people, this attack was tactical and aimed at regaining territory," the source said.
Syria's Assad says French strikes would trigger repercussions
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad scorned allegations that his forces were behind chemical attacks in Damascus last month and warned that any French military action against his government would trigger negative repercussions.
"Those who make accusations must show evidence. We have challenged the United States and France to come up with a single piece of proof. (Presidents) Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing so," Assad told the French daily Le Figaro in an interview.
"Anybody who contributes to the financial and military reinforcement of terrorists is the enemy of the Syrian people. If the policies of the French state are hostile to the Syrian people, the state will be their enemy," he said. "There will be repercussions, negative ones obviously, on French interests."