By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
BOSTON -- Sen. Edward Markey said he would support a "surgical strike" in Syria if the Obama administration's evidence s conclusive that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, but would oppose sending U.S. troops.
Markey, who attended a Democratic unity breakfast in Mattapan Wednesday morning for a state representative candidate, said he had not yet seen the evidence the Obama administration plans to detail for members of Congress illustrating Assad's use of chemical agents against Syrians in that country's civil conflict.
"If it's conclusive that Assad is using chemical weapons against his own people, I think it's important for the United States and for the global community to make a statement that that is not acceptable conduct in the 21st Century, that chemical weapons, biological weapons, and nuclear weapons are not useable by any nation, any people, at any time," Markey told reporters.
The newly sworn-in senator, however, said, "No American troops should ever be on the ground in Syria."
"We should not involve ourselves in the conflict that involves American combat personnel, but we have to make a statement and if the president does determine that he can make a surgical strike, limited, targeted, and towards the goals of ensuring that chemical weapons are not used in that conflict in Syria, then I would support the president," Markey said.
Asked to detail the "statement" the U.S. and its allies should make to Syria, Markey said, "The statement to Assad is we are going to hit you, and our allies stand with the world in saying that you must, Assad must not use chemical weapons."
During a press briefing Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said an intelligence report on the use of chemical weapons was being developed and information would be provided to the public "in the coming days."
"There is no doubt here that chemical weapons were used on a massive scale on August 21st outside of Damascus," Carney said. "There is also very little doubt, and should be no doubt for anyone who approaches this logically, that the Syrian regime is responsible for the use of chemical weapons on August 21st outside of Damascus." The White House, he said, is considering the "appropriate response to this clear violation of international norms.
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas of Lowell was unavailable for comment Wednesday night.