Hoeven, Heitkamp release statements on missile strikes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — North Dakota senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp released statements Saturday about U.S. airstrikes in response to Syrian chemical attacks.

President Donald Trump announced late Friday night that he had launched precision missile strikes on targets associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The United States, along with France and the United Kingdom, launched a response Friday against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad days after his government allegedly used chemical weapons on its citizens.

“The Assad regime continues to terrorize its own people, yet again, using chemical weapons on innocent civilians,” said Hoeven. “Last night’s targeted military strike by the U.S., along with our allies Great Britain and France, sent a clear message to Bashar al-Assad, and his enablers Iran and Russia, that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.”

Hoeven said the joint military strike was meant to deter future use of chemical weapons by hitting precise targets with the goal of damaging the Assad regime’s chemical weapons capabilities.

Heitkamp said the images of chemical weapons attacks on innocent civilians in Syria are “incredibly sad and disturbing.” She says the international community must condemn the actions taken by Syria and not allow them to happen again.

“Assad must be held accountable for his egregious human rights violations and the gassing of his own people–a crime against international law and humanity as well as an act of unspeakable cowardice,” Heitkamp said in her statement Saturday.

An updated, clear strategy that carefully considers the next appropriate military and diplomatic steps while avoiding an extended military conflict is what Heitkamp is wanting to see next.

“Any U.S. military action in the region must be wary of dragging our armed forces into a protracted and broader conflict in the region, especially as our military faces challenges impacting U.S. interests around the globe,” Heitkamp said. “Particularly during these fraught times, I’m thinking of our servicemembers both at home and abroad.

“Going forward, Congress must be involved in decisions about further action and must vote to authorize military force. Congress can examine the best long-term strategy to stabilize the region, protect lives, and pressure Assad’s Russian and Iranian backers to acknowledge the serious nature of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons use and violation of international norms,” Heitkamp said.

“We truly appreciate the dedication and skill of our men and women in uniform who carried out this difficult mission, along with our British and French allies,” Hoeven said.