GOP senators: Syria crossed Obama's red line

McCain, Corker and Graham said that Assad's use of chemical weapons is a "game changer"

Published April 25, 2013 5:45PM (EDT)

After the Obama administration said Thursday that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its citizens, three Republican senators argued that this signifies that Bashar Al-Assad has "crossed the red line" that Obama marked as a game changer for U.S. involvement.

The National Journal reports:

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters they believe the presence of the chemical weapons signals that the Assad regime has crossed the so-called ‘red line’ the administration laid out previously that should dictate increased action by the U.S.

“It is clear that the Syrians have crossed the red line that the president said was a game changer, so it should change the game,” McCain said.

“The day that Assad falls there will be as surely as I’m standing here a conflict between the majority of Syrians who want to move forward and live in peace and an element of radical jihadists and that conflict needs to be planned for and brought to an end,” Graham said, according to Politico. “The sooner Assad leaves, the better for the world.”

“This assessment is deeply troubling, and if correct, means that President Obama’s red line has certainly been crossed,” said Corker in a statement. “While more work needs to be done to fully verify this assessment — like making sure we understand the chain of custody of the evidence — it is becoming increasingly clear that we must step up our efforts.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., agreed that Assad crossed the line, but didn't go much further than that. “From what I’ve heard our intelligence indicated with some degree of certainty that it has been crossed,” Durbin said. “That’s up to the commander in chief, but something has to be done.”

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Barack Obama Bashar Al-assad Bob Corker John Mccain Lindsey Graham Syria