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Local Lawmakers Urge Restraint As U.S. Mulls Action In Syria

Reps. Murphy, Maloney Say Congress Should Vote On Any Military Action
An image grab taken from a video shows an opposition fighter firing an rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on August 26, 2013 during clashes with regime forces over the strategic area of Khanasser, situated on the only road linking Aleppo to central Syria. (credit: SALAH AL-ASHKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

An image grab taken from a video shows an opposition fighter firing an rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on August 26, 2013 during clashes with regime forces over the strategic area of Khanasser, situated on the only road linking Aleppo to central Syria. (credit: SALAH AL-ASHKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Lawmakers in the Tri-State Area have called on President Barack Obama to exercise restraint as it considers its response to Syria following allegations it used chemical weapons in its civil war.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is among those at odds with President Barack Obama over the best way to handle the growing crisis in Syria.

While noting “there is no longer any question” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, the junior senator said diplomacy rather than military action may be advised.

Murphy said there’s little chance that targeted air strikes would destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles. He said such intervention in Syria’s civil war could prompt a reaction from Syrian leader Bashar Assad and draw the U.S. into a wider conflict.

“I urge the Administration to continue to exercise restraint, because absent an imminent threat to America’s national security, the U.S. should not take military action without Congressional authorization,” the freshman senator said in a written statement.

Murphy also voiced concern that the U.S. intervention would not be limited to just a few days, even though there is no talk of sending in ground troops.

“We’re still talking about a potential major engagement with a lot of money but far-reaching consequences for the United States and our national security,” Murphy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) also said President Obama should not authorize any military action in Syria without approval from Congress.

“Whenever he formulates his policy, have a vote on it on the floor. We have to know exactly what we’re doing and how we’re getting out,” Maloney said Wednesday. “My constituents are so pleased that we’re coming back from Afghanistan, coming back from Iraq. They do not want another war. Now, if there’s some strategic strikes it has to be defined what it is going to be and how we’re going to protect American lives.”

She added this may be an instance where the U.S. should not get involved militarily.

“We cannot be 911 to the world. The world and countries in that region need to take responsibility for their own safety,” the congresswoman added.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that U.S. forces were ready to act if Obama decides to order an attack against Syria.

Murphy said he’s in favor of trying to achieve a diplomatic solution by working first with Syria’s financial backers, the Russians.

“I think that there’s a lot of war weariness out there, I think there are a lot of people that are very skeptical about getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict and I appreciate the fact that the administration is not talking about ground troops,” Murphy told Schneidau. “I just want us to be very sober in our understanding of how difficult this may be to achieve.”

Syria’s civil war began more than two years ago. The White House said Obama had not settled on what action to take in response to the large-scale use of deadly gases, a move Obama said last year would cross a red line.

Momentum appeared to build Tuesday for Western military action against Syria, with France also saying it’s in position for a strike. The government in Syria’s capital, Damascus, vowed to use all possible measures to repel it.

The West has asserted that Assad’s government was responsible for a chemical attack on civilians outside Damascus on Aug. 21. The group Doctors Without Borders says the attack killed 355 people. Assad denies the claims.

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