- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More than half of U.S. voters support targeting the Syrian military with cyberattacks in reaction to the deadly chemical weapons assault waged last week allegedly by President Bashar Assad’s government, pollsters said Wednesday.

Fifty-six percent of individuals surveyed in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s lethal assault said they’d support seeing the Trump administration take action against Mr. Assad’s regime by conducting cyberattacks against Syrian military computer targets, according to the results of a Morning Consult/Politico poll taken afterward.

Specifically, 28 percent of respondents said they strongly support Washington waging cyberattacks against Syrian military targets, in addition to 28 percent who said they somewhat support a hypothetical cyberstrike.

Only 12 percent of respondents said they strongly oppose conducting cyberattacks against the Syrian military, however, backed by 13 percent of respondents who said they were somewhat opposed. One-in-five registered voters, meanwhile, said they didn’t hold an opinion either way, pollsters reported.

Dozens of Syrian civilians died after a chemical weapons attack was launched on April 4 in the Idlib province. The White House subsequently blamed the Assad regime for waging the assault and reacted by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield on April 7.

The results of the Morning Consult/Politico poll published Wednesday stem from online interviews conducted among a national sample of 1,988 registered voters between April 6 and 9, before and after President Trump authorized a military strike in response to last Tuesday’s gassing.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents surveyed last week said they support conducting airstrikes against Syrian targets, compared to 29 percent opposed.

Despite the airstrikes being favored by a majority of Americans, according to pollsters, critics on Capitol Hill accused Mr. Trump of circumventing Congress last week when he authorized a military strike without seeking lawmakers’ approval.

With respect to cyberattacks, however, Washington currently lacks a formal policy concerning the nation’s ability to wage and respond to electronic assaults, much to the chagrin of some members of Congress. Indeed, a bipartisan resolution introduced in the House last month would require the federal government to develop a comprehensive policy concerning the nation’s cybersecurity and once and for all establish a definition for “cyberwar.”

“No longer does war take place on land, at sea, in the skies or in space — it’s about time we recognize that cyberspace is the battlefield of the 21st century,” Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat and a co-author of the proposal, said previously.

The Assad regime has denied responsibility for last Tuesday’s attack.

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