Dear Honorable Clark:
Thank you for contacting me regarding Syria. I appreciate your concern on this important issue.
As you are aware, in March 2011, Syrian protesters began calling for political reforms and the reinstatement of civil rights under the corrupt regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Since that time, the situation in Syria has devolved into a civil war between pro-government forces loyal to the Assad regime and a coalition of rebel groups killing tens of thousands of Syrians, mostly civilians.
This instability threatens the security of the entire region. Recent reports from the United Nations indicate that approximately 1.6 million people have been displaced by the civil war. Many of these refugees are seeking safe haven in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt. It is imperative that the United States remains committed to joining with partner nations in providing humanitarian assistance to these displaced refugees.
While I am deeply concerned about the regional effects of the Syrian conflict, I am very troubled by the threat of chemical weapons within Syria. Since August 2012, President Obama has stated that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would be a red line that the United States could not tolerate. Since March 2013, we have received reports of the deployment of chemical weapons by forces loyal to President Assad; however President Obama failed to take any meaningful action to neutralize the threat posed by these weapons. Compounding this problem is the increase in the number of Islamist fighters who are traveling from all over the world to gain control of Syria. In this way, they can have a territory closer to the United States and Europe to carry out their mission of attacking the Western Hemisphere. The world is looking to the United States to lead the effort to neutralize these dangerous threats to the region and elsewhere. I encourage the President to work with Congress to immediately develop an appropriate response to restore stability to this troubled region.
Currently, there are a number of legislative measures pending in Congress relating to U.S. involvement in Syria. My support for any foreign aid or deployment of U.S. troops will continue to be based on relevance to our national security and other important U.S. strategic interests. Furthermore, I remain concerned about the effect of multiple deployments on our military personnel. As legislation regarding Syria comes before the Senate, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
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