Local News

August 31, 2013

Owens doesn't want troops in Syria

Congressman wants to see defined plan

PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens says he will not support sending troops into Syria in response to apparent chemical-weapons attacks there.

“I will not support boots on the ground,” Owens told the Press-Republican.

“If there was an alternative action planned, I might consider that, depending on the details.”

Hundreds of citizens were killed Aug. 21 in what appears to be chemical-weapons attacks launched by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the suburbs of Damascus.

President Barack Obama has been talking about some kind of military action in response, Owens said, but plans have not been defined yet.

The world is outraged over the attacks, and there have been calls for action by the United States and Great Britain, but Owens said the issue is complex.

“I am not sure it should always be our responsibility. We are coming off two wars, and we’ve spent a lot of blood and money,” he said.

“Before we do anything, we need to be careful that we know what the mission is and if we can actually accomplish the mission.”

Owens said he does not believe Assad’s claims that he is not behind the attacks, and he is concerned that such atrocities might continue.

“That’s why I would consider some kind of mission to take him out.

“But I won’t support a shot across the bow unless there is a focus on making him lose the ability to continue such atrocities.”

The congressman said he also would support legal action against Assad.

“This is clearly a crime against humanity, and I support the courts going after him,” he said.

Owens said that he, like many Americans, found the photographs of the damage caused by the attacks highly disturbing.˝

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I cannot imagine someone doing something like that  to their own people.

“Unfortunately, history has shown us, through events like the Holocaust, that people can attack their own folks. It’s just mind-boggling.”

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