By Greg Clary
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two key members of congressional foreign affairs panels said Sunday they expect the United States to strike Syria following reports of chemical weapons attacks in that country last week.
“I think we will respond in a surgical way and I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington, will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way. Something that gets their attention, that causes them to understand that we are not going to put up with that kind of activity,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
But Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel, said President Barack Obama may not need to wait for congressional authorization.
“Congress needs to be involved but perhaps not initially,” Engel said. “Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it and assent to it. We cannot sit still. We’ve got to move and we’ve got to move quickly.”
The situation in Syria escalated dramatically last week after reports the government there used chemical weapons in civilian areas.
Opposition groups say over a thousand people died in the attack with thousands more affected by the gas.
CNN cannot independently verify the causality claims.
Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister said Sunday that the government will allow United Nations inspectors to visit the site of the alleged attack, but that it may be too late.
“If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN – five days ago. At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible,” a senior Obama administration official said Sunday.
Over 100,000 people are estimated to have perished so far in Syria’s civil war.
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.
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