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Pompeo supports authorizing attack on Syria

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Breaking ranks with his fellow Kansas lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that he would vote in support of authorizing a U.S. strike on Syria.

The Republican congressman is traveling to several Middle Eastern countries this week as part of his role on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. During a phone interview from Israel, he said he is hearing a great deal of concern about jihad inside Syria and fears that Hezbollah is moving into Syria and gaining power.

The rest of the state's all-Republican delegation has issued statements in opposition to a military response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed hundreds of people.

"I have come to be firmly convinced that if Congress votes 'no,' we would guarantee an outcome that was really bad for America," Pompeo said.

"I hope (President Barack Obama) will take an action that is not some silly little shot across the bow or some few missiles launched into Syria," Pompeo added. "But takes a series of actions that have an impact, that keep national interests protected and American soldiers and sailors and marines all across the world safe."

Exactly what that would be is best left to military judgment, Pompeo said. He said the objective needs to be the "massive degradation" of Assad's capacity to risk American national security with chemical weapons.

"I think it is fair to say that had we acted a couple of years ago, you would not have the enormous threat from radical Islamic jihadists inside of Syria that we have today," he said.

What is important now, he said, is to make sure Iranians who are watching see a strong response from America.

"If we piddle around with a soft response, they'll see that, too," he said.

The state's U.S. senators and other three representatives have said they would oppose U.S. intervention.

"America cannot afford another conflict that taxes our resources without achieving goals that advance American interests, and I will not support authorizing action against Syria at this time," U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said in a statement.

The sentiment was echoed by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts.

"While I recognize the horror of citizens and their children being murdered by their own government, whether by poison gas or by bombs and bullets, it is clear we have no meaningful coalition of allies, nor detailed plan of action nor clear picture of our objective," Roberts said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp cited the opposition from Kansans at town hall meetings he has hosted. Rep. Lynn Jenkins said it is still unclear "who is on the other side of this conflict." U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder said he did not believe a military attack against Syria is warranted at this time."