Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the President's proposed request for training members of the Syrian opposition.
"There are risks associated with any decision, but today the biggest risk is to continue on the current path of doing nothing. ISIL now poses a direct threat to the American people and homeland and must be vanquished.
"For over three years, brave people in Syria have been fighting against a brutal tyrant, Bashir al-Assad. Nearly 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives as Assad has unleashed his military on his own people. For three years, I have been calling to provide critical military assistance to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to stop the siege. Unfortunately, for three years, the President has rejected this strategy and Syria has descended further into chaos. Seizing an opportunity, ISIL reconstituted itself from a diminished terrorist group in Iraq to become the largest, most well organized terrorist group on the planet, now headquartered in Syria. The ideal time to support the FSA was three years ago, at a time when it would have had the most return on investment.
"It's clear to me the vast majority of Syrians don't like Assad and sure don't want to live under the thumb of ISIL. It's in our interests to support these Syrian opposition forces in their cause of defeating the ISIL terrorists who are reigning terror on them.
"Therefore, if he makes the request tonight, I plan to support President Obama's decision to allow the Department of Defense to take over training of the Syrian opposition in place of the CIA. I will also support funding requests for training and arming the Syrian opposition to enhance our chances of success.
"Someone has to fight ISIL inside of Syria to keep America safe. It is my hope that the House and Senate will support this request and provide the authorities and funding necessary to enhance our chances of success.
"If we do not engage ISIL, the chances of being attacked here at home dramatically increase and I'd rather have willing Syrians do the fighting than have America go it alone."