US Syria bill could lead to invasion

A tough sanctions measure approved by Congress against Syria could lead to a future invasion of the country, a prominent US lawmaker has said.

    Congress approved the Syria sanctions bill by 89 votes to four

    Senator Robert Byrd, an

    outspoken critic of US Middle East policy, said on 

    Tuesday that he feared the Syria Accountability and Lebanese

    Sovereignty Act would be used to

     justify future military action against Damascus.

    "The United States is justified in seeking to apply political

    and economic pressure on Syria to change its foreign policy," the

    West Virginia Democrat said.

    But he highlighted one particular section of the bill that referred

    to "hostile actions" by Syria against US-led forces in Iraq.

    Preemptive strikes

    "I have not seen any evidence that would lead me to believe that

    it is the government of Syria that is responsible for the attacks

    against our troops in Iraq," Byrd said.

    "I have not seen any evidence that would lead me to believe that

    it is the government of Syria that is responsible for the attacks

    against our troops in Iraq...

    Such insinuations can only build the case for military action

    against Syria"

    Robert Byrd,
    US Congressman

     

    "Such insinuations can only build the case for military action

    against Syria, which unfortunately is a very real possibility

    because of the dangerous doctrine of preemption created by the

    administration," he said.

    Byrd said the vote in favour of sanctions "could too easily be used

    to imply congressional support for pre-emptive military action

    against a rogue state".

    "I will vote against this bill because of that dangerous course

    that it may portend," he said before the vote.

    Syria weapons programmes

    However, the Senate approved the bill, which easily cleared t

    he House of Representatives last month, by a vote of 89 to 4,

    alleging Syrian ties to "extremists" and purported efforts to

    obtain nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

    Earlier on the Senate floor, Foreign Relations chairman

    Richard Lugar warned Syria that "it is in their interest to recalculate

    their approach towards the United States".

    "Syria shares a 400 mile (650km) border with Iraq," the

    Indiana Republican said.

    "With more than 135,000 US troops deployed in Iraq, Syria needs

    to reconsider where its future security interests lie."

    SOURCE: AFP


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