THOMSON — U. S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has called for regime change in Syria, a goal that would broaden the proposed mission in that country beyond limited strikes to deter the future use of chemical weapons.|
"What we envision are two things," Sen. Durbin said. "First that we use cruise missiles, other bombs perhaps, to hit those military targets in Syria to stop Bashar Assad from continuing to use those deadly chemical weapons and number two that we continue through our allies and directly supporting the opposition troops so that ultimately Assad is gone."
Sen. Durbin voted Wednesday as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in favor of granting to military authorization requested President Barack Obama to strike Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime. The committee voted 10-7 in favor of the military authorization, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate next week.
The resolution included an amendment introduced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Chris Coon, D-Del., that could broaden the mission beyond missile strikes aimed at destroying the Syrian government's ability to use chemical weapons.
"It is the policy of the United States to change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria so as to create favorable conditions for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria," the amendment stated.
Speaking at a news conference in Thomson about the federal government's plans for the empty prison there, Sen. Durbin indicated that he supported the amendment.
"We want to make sure that the forces for change in Syria are successful and what Sen. McCain is looking for is more support for the opposition, the vetted opposition," he said. "Some parts of the opposition are not friends of the United States but many parts, most of them, are. So we want to provide additional support for those opposition forces so that they can bring real change to Syria."
Some of the rebels fighting the Assad regime are understood to be linked to al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups.
United Nations investigators have yet to conclude their investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime last month that triggered the debate on intervention.
A slew of polls conducted in recent days have found wide opposition among the American public to a military intervention in Syria.
Sen. Durbin acknowledged the opposition and said it was understandable in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We were told there was weapons of mass destruction therefore we had to invade. It wasn't true," Sen. Durbin said of the Iraq war. "Secondly, when it came to the war in Afghanistan, we were going to go after the people who were behind 9/11. It turned out to be the longest war in American history."