- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2018

In a blistering takedown of U.S. policy toward Syria, Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Thursday said “it’s time to act” in the war-torn nation as dictator Bashar Assad’s forces prepare to launch an assault on Idlib that many fear could one of the bloodiest campaigns in the ongoing war.

Mr. Kinzinger, Illinois Republican and an outspoken voice on national security issues, argued in an op-ed for Defense One that the U.S. approach in Syria — both during the Obama administration and now under President Trump — has been an abject failure. While he stressed that an all-out ground invasion isn’t the answer, he said it’s long past time for a comprehensive strategy that includes ousting Mr. Assad from power.

“Our lack of a strategy in Syria has been a failing practice. The initial attacks already happening in Idlib are just a prelude to the civilian bloodbath that the world will soon witness if Assad once again uses chemical weapons on his own people,” he wrote. “We cannot stand idly by and allow this humanitarian crisis to compound further. … It’s time to act.”

Mr. Assad’s forces are on the verge of launching a major assault on Idlib, a key rebel stronghold in western Syria. Pentagon officials have regularly raised concerns that he could use chemical weapons in the attack. Mr. Assad’s previous uses of chemical weapons have led to retaliatory airstrikes from U.S. forces.

But beyond those one-off airstrikes, critics such as Mr. Kinzinger argue there’s been little in the way of a full American strategy to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where Russia has aligned itself squarely on Mr. Assad’s side. The formal U.S. policy involves only countering Islamic State terrorists still operating within Syrian borders.

Mr. Kinzinger said more must be done.

“I’m not suggesting the U.S. invade Syria, post up thousands of U.S. troops, and start World War III. But, I am suggesting we take a stand for what is right, what is just, and what is in the best interest of the United States and the freedom-loving people around the world,” he said. “We need a long-term strategy in Syria that leads to a solution of peace and an end to the ongoing, deadly conflict. This strategy should also include the end of the Assad regime and a place at the table of government for the Syrian people.”

United Nations officials this week called on all parties — particularly Mr. Assad’s allies Russia and Iran — to protect civilians and not allow Idlib to turn into the massacre many fear.

“This would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

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