Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Friday that he supported President Donald Trump’s decision to order strikes against a Syrian airfield, and that the President would find broad international support for a U.S.-led regime change effort in the country.
Rubio, a noted hawk, said the strikes were both legal and justified following a suspected Syrian poison gas attack against civilians on Tuesday, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of people.
“It was the right move,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “First of all, it was legal. It was in furtherance of both enforcing an agreement that the United States and Russia were a party to for the removal of chemical weapons. It was in furtherance of the treaty that they signed. It was in furtherance of international law that says you cannot use chemical weapons against anyone, not to mention innocent civilians. It was in furtherance of a UN Security Council resolution.”
“It was also in our national interest,” he continued. “There are hundreds of American troops now in the region and in Syria who could be threatened by sarin gas. If Assad is willing to use that gas against civilians why would he not be willing to use it against Americans? So it was important.”
Rubio didn’t say definitively, as many of his colleagues have, that Trump needed congressional approval for further missile strikes.
“It depends on the circumstances,” he said, asked if Trump needed approval for more strikes. “If it is in response to an exigent circumstance or an immediate threat to our national interest, then I don’t believe the President needs to come before Congress. He is the commander in chief and has the right to pursue that.”
Rubio also reiterated his support for a U.S.-led effort to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, emphasizing that he had been calling for as much for many years. The Syrian civil war began six years ago, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people since and displacing many more.
“Our options are a little more difficult now than they were five, six, seven years ago,” he said. “But nevertheless, rather to do it later than never at all. It’s more difficult. This is not an easy thing, but it is a necessary thing because as long as Assad is in power, as long as instability is in Syria, you will have a radical jihadist group to fill that void.”
“We’re about to find out,” if there is support for an international coalition to get rid of Assad, Rubio added later.
This post has been updated.