After the United States, Britain and France launched airstrikes Friday night against Syria for its alleged use of banned chemical weapons, three members of Maine’s congressional delegation called on Congress to play a more active role in putting pressure on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Independent Sen. Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin also said the Trump administration should get the backing of Congress for any further military action in Syria.

Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, said Saturday that “last night’s use of precision missile strikes was a justified and proportional response to Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless use of chemical weapons in Duoma,” a Syrian town that was attacked on April 7.

Members of Maine’s delegation were responding to airstrikes on three sites that Defense Secretary James Mattis said had enabled the Assad regime to create chemical weapons.

President Trump did not get congressional approval for the military action, which triggered demonstrations in Syria and condemnation from Russia and Iran, Syria’s allies.

In a statement released Saturday, Collins, a Republican, denounced Assad’s deployment of chemical weapons “despite a diplomatic agreement brokered by Russia in 2013 requiring the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons and multiple warnings against their use.”

She praised “the brave members of our armed forces who carried out this mission.”

“The president and his national security team’s decisive action was an appropriate response to this barbaric attack and the close coordination with Great Britain and France sends a message that the international community will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons,” Collins said.

ESCALATION CONCERNS

In a statement released late Friday not long after Trump announced the airstrikes in a televised address to the nation, King said he hoped the U.S. response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons was carefully calibrated and coordinated with America’s international partners.

King, who caucuses with the Democrats, said any military action against the Assad regime should be targeted and coordinated to prevent an “unintended escalation of this conflict from a civil war to an expanded international struggle” in the Middle East, where there are many U.S. service members.

He said Congress must take on “a larger role in this decision making, as it is incumbent upon our nation’s legislative body to authorize the use of military force.”

King said he would continue to push for a more comprehensive strategy in Syria, as he did with the Obama administration, and urged the Trump administration to work closely with Congress on both sides of the aisle and with the country’s global partners.

Democrat Pingree, who represents the 1st District, pushed for congressional approval before there is any further military action.

“While I believe that Assad’s heinous chemical attacks on his own people should not go unpunished, I am concerned that President Trump has once again taken military action without the consent of Congress,” Pingree said in a statement.

She said Trump has implied that Friday night’s strike may not be the last military action taken by his administration. But, she said, Congress has yet to hear a definitive strategy for preventing Assad from using chemical weapons on his people again in the future.

“Getting fully involved in another Middle East conflict absolutely demands congressional approval, which is why I have long pushed for a new Authorized Use of Military Force to be brought to a vote and continue to do so,” she said.

Pingree said the United States must step up its commitment to providing humanitarian aid and relief in Syria and work with allies to stabilize the region and bring an end to the crisis.

Pingree joined 88 members of Congress in a bipartisan letter to Trump dated Friday demanding consultation and approval by Congress before taking military action against Syria.

‘COME TO CONGRESS’

Republican Poliquin, who represents the 2nd District, said in a statement that the military strikes were carried out strategically and in close coordination with U.S. allies.

“These strikes were measured and in direct response to condemned aggression and atrocities from the Assad government in Syria. However, President Trump should come to Congress if he is considering further aggressive military action. It’s important Congress has an opportunity to review proposals for further aggressive military action.”

Trump’s decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked the president’s second order to attack Syria. He authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad’s use of sarin gas against civilians, The Associated Press reported.

Trump chastised Syria’s two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting “murderous dictators,” and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 international agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons. He called on Moscow to change course and join the West in seeking a more responsible regime in Damascus, according to the AP.

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