WNYT.com

Gibson, Welch lead effort to stop escalation in Syria

Posted at: 06/27/2013 3:13 PM
Updated at: 06/27/2013 4:21 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

A Syrian rebel sits at their headquarters in Maaret Ikhwan, near Idlib, Syria.
A Syrian rebel sits at their headquarters in Maaret Ikhwan, near Idlib, Syria.
Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, D.C. - For many months now, we've watched as rebel groups battle the Syrian Assad administration.

Without further assistance, there is little reason to believe the rebels will prevail.

But Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, argues sending arms and committing troops is not in our best interests.

"As tragic as the circumstances are on the ground in Syria, we will only exacerbate the matter if we arm those rebels and if we get involved militarily," Gibson, a retired Army colonel, said at a Caopitol news conference.

Destabilizing an entrenched government and flooding the area with arms could just promote chaos.

"This is essentially a Sunni-Shi'a civil war," said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont. "It's origins go back hundreds, if not thousands of years. There is some unity among the rebels to take out Assad but as soon as that happens if they're successful, there's going to be score-settling."

Above all else, the group of Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate members wants Congress to have a full say.

"The use of authorization of force in 2001 said we could go after the Taliban, al-Qaida and associated forces," said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky. "Now we will be arming forces who are actually associated and fighting on the same side as al-Qaida."

"The American people have to have a voice in this," Gibson said. "The people's representatives need to have a voice in this."