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Markey calls on Trump to outline strategy for Syria





US Senator Edward J. Markey called on President Donald Trump Saturday to outline a comprehensive strategy on how the United States will deal with Syria and to seek authorization from Congress before escalating the conflict further.

“It’s one thing to have a tactic, it’s another thing to have a strategy,” said Markey at a morning press conference at the JFK federal building. “Donald Trump last week was in favor of letting Assad stay in power, this week he’s in favor of removing Assad. That is political whiplash of the highest order.”

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It was important, Markey said, to send a message to Assad that the use of chemical weapons was “outside the bounds of civilized conduct” and the missile strike did that. On Friday, he said he supported the missile strike as long as that was the end of the mission. Now, he said, the United States needs to find a diplomatic solution to the civil war that has torn the country for the past six years – not a military one.

“I oppose that 100 percent,” said Markey, of the possibility of putting American boots on the ground in Syria.

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Russia will be a critical part of any diplomatic solution, Markey said. Trump must hold Russia to its commitment to remove chemical weapons from Syria, he said, and Russia must enforce the cease-fire it reached with Iran and Turkey. There must be unrestricted humanitarian aid distributed throughout Syria, Markey said, and Assad must begin negotiations to end the civil war.

If Assad will not negotiate, Markey said, the United States must enforce “crippling economic sanctions” upon any company or country supporting the Assad regime.

Markey also criticized Trump for his “newfound concern for babies being killed in Syria,” when the president has banned Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

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“Children like those who were on television last week dying of exposure to sarin gas had older brothers and sisters and relatives over the last six years who have been dying, not from chemicals but from conventional weapons,” Markey said. “They too are victims of Bashar al-Assad, they too are victims of ISIS, they too deserve to be refugees in the US.”

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.


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