Top Dem Senator: ‘Ground Forces’ Needed to Settle War in Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jack Reed (D-RI), the ranking-member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday that the use of “ground forces” is required to resolve the Syrian conflict.

Sen. Reed appeared to be deviating from his opposition to the use of U.S. combat boots on the ground in Syria.

When Breitbart News asked about his comments, Chip Unruh, a spokesman for Sen. Reed, said, “The Senator was asking questions based on the witnesses’ testimony, not making policy proposals.”

During Thursday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Russian strategy and military operations, Reed, the top Democrat on the panel said, “The decisive ability to change the facts on the ground in Syria is somehow ground forces, in my view. I don’t think air power alone by any side is going to… decisively sort of settle the issue.”

Prior to making those comments, Sen. Reed asked the panel of expert witnesses whether or not President Obama would confront “legal problems” if he decided to take a more direct confrontational approach to the conflict in Syria.

“I’m sure there are [legal problems],” responded retired U.S. Marine Corp Gen. James Jones, who served as President Obama’s national security advisor, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t confront them and resolve them.”

Sen. Reed said he “absolutely” agreed with Gen. Jones, who is now the chairman of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

“I think that in many cases the debate assumes that these are policy issues alone, that they can be done by decision immediately when, in fact, there are… issues involving legal authority they can use, when we can use them, how do they constrain us, how do they enable us,” added Reed.

Most Democrat lawmakers have stuck by the Obama administration’s message of no U.S. ground troops in combat roles in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, some Republicans have insisted that the deployment of American ground troops will be necessary and have criticized Obama for taking that option off the table.

Russian warplanes began launching airstrikes against groups who oppose the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria, including U.S.-trained and armed moderate Syrian fighters.

Sen. Reed expressed opposition to Russia’s military activities in Syria during Thursday’s hearing, echoing Sen. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“In Syria, much as it did in Ukraine, Russia has hidden its true intentions, using the ruse of joining the fight against ISIL to provide a cover for Russia’s military intervention to prop up the Assad regime,” said the Rhode Island Democrat in his opening remarks.

“Russia is providing broad and enabling support to the Assad regime forces against the moderate [Syrian] opposition,” he added. “These Russian missile attacks and enabling support were apparently conducted in coordination with a new ground offensive by the Syria army, Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah, and other Iranian-affiliated forces. These alignment of terrorists…is alarming.”

Russia’s intervention in Syria, well beyond its border, marks a significant departure from how Russia has operated in the past, Sen. Reed pointed out.

“Russia’s unilateral and beligerent efforts are not helpful to the efforts of the unified [U.S.-led] coalition of 60-plus countries fighting ISIL and create a dangerous risk of unintended consequences,” he continued.

He noted that Russia’s actions are likely to prolong and further complicate the Syrian conflict.


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