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North Coast Congressmen Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson await Syria vote

  • Dave Ransom, right, and Susan Lamont, with the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, protest in Old Courthouse Square against President Obama's option to bomb Syrian government targets for their use of banned chemical weapons in the two year old Syrian Civil War, in Santa Rosa, Calif., on August 30, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

North Coast politicians joined the debate on U.S. intervention in Syria as the Obama administration sought congressional approval to strike the Syrian army for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Meanwhile, local peace groups planned protests against U.S. action in a climate that some compared to the leadup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed a resolution authorizing President Barack Obama to use limited force to deter Syria from using chemical weapons. The full House and Senate could vote on authorizing force next week.

Protest Over Likely Syria Strike

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Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he has not been convinced that attacking Syria is in the best national interest.

"I'm definitely leaning toward 'no,'" said Huffman, whose district includes the North Coast from Marin County to the Oregon border. "We haven't been able to articulate a clear reason for military involvement there."

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who sits on the House intelligence committee, said he has not made up his mind on Syrian intervention.

"My position is going to be determined by the facts," said Thompson, who represents Napa County and parts of Sonoma County including Santa Rosa. "I am reviewing the intel. I can tell you I am appalled by the use of chemical weapons."

Thompson said he has had intelligence briefings on Syria, and he believes chemical weapons were used in the country's 2 1/2-year civil war. The White House says that 1,400 people, including more than 400 children, died in a Syrian government chemical weapons attack last month.

"The world has the responsibility to dissuade the use of chemical weapons," Thompson said, adding that he thinks unilateral intervention is unwise.

In Sonoma County, peace advocates are gearing up to oppose U.S. intervention, as they did in 2003 when President George Bush took the nation to war in Iraq on the pretext of seizing weapons of mass destruction.


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