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Sen. McCain calls for military action in Syria

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PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, are urging President Barack Obama to swiftly take military action in Syria.

The senators released the following statement on Friday:

"Secretary Kerry made a passionate and compelling case that established the Assad's regime use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21. The only remaining question is how to respond to an attack that was a crime against humanity, a violation of international law and contrary to our interests and values as a nation. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the response to this historic atrocity being contemplated by the Obama Administration will be equal to the gravity of the crime itself and the U.S. national security interests at stake in Syria.

"The purpose of military action in Syria should not be to help the president save face. It should not be merely cosmetic. Instead, the goal of military action should be to shift the balance of power on the battlefield against Assad and his forces. The United States, together with our friends and allies, should take out Assad's air power, ballistic missiles, command and control, and other significant military targets, and we should dramatically increase our efforts to train and arm moderate Syrian opposition forces. This can be done in a limited way, without boots on the ground, and at minimal risk to our men and women in uniform.

"We urge President Obama to delay no further in taking military action in Syria that could finally change the momentum of this awful and destructive conflict."

Obama said Friday he is weighing "limited and narrow" action against Syria as the administration bluntly accused Bashar Assad's government of launching a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 1,429 people - far more than previous estimates - including more than 400 children.

No "boots on the ground," Obama said, seeking to reassure a public weary after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With France as his only major public ally, Obama told reporters he has a strong preference for multilateral action. He added, "frankly part of the challenge we end up with here is a lot of people think something should be done but nobody wants to do it."

Rep. Matt Salmon, AZ-Dist. 5, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere released the following statement on military action in Syria:

"Having just received a briefing today by White House staff with other members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I remain skeptical as to what the president hopes to accomplish by executing military force against Syria. Once again, I reiterate my call to President Obama to directly consult and receive authorization from Congress before any military action is taken. In addition, I repeat my call to President Obama to specifically detail his ultimate objectives and strategy for engaging further in the ongoing Syrian conflict.

"American citizens recognize that this is a deeply complex issue and the president owes it to them, and to Congress, to clearly identify his goals and what he constitutes as victory in Syria before the United States moves forward with military intervention."

Salmon's office said he joined more than 100 of his Republican and Democrat House colleagues in formally requesting Obama to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering use of military force in Syria. [Click here to read the letter (PDF)]

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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