A picture released by the US Navy shows Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Christiana Marszalek signaling as an AV-8B Harrier takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) on March 29, 2013 in the Mediterranean Sea. (AFP Photo/US NAVY/Corbin Shea)
A "targeted strike" on Syria by the US would be nothing but an act of war, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich said, adding that an airstrike on President Assad's anti-radical Islamist forces would mean the US Air Force was supporting Al-Qaeda.
Kucinich, a prominent anti-war politician who has consistently opposed America's military involvement in Iraq and Libya, warned that President Barack Obama would be violating the US Constitution if he took military action against Syria without authorization from Congress.
An airstrike on Syria would also embolden multinational jihadists with links to Al-Qaeda, warned Kucinich, a four-time Congressman who was a long-shot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008. For the US, that would mean being dragged into yet another war in the Middle East, he said.
"So what, we're about to become Al-Qaeda's air force now?" said Kucinich. "This is a very, very serious matter that has broad implications internationally. And to try to minimize it by saying we're just going to have a 'targeted strike' -- that's an act of war. It's not something to be trifled with."
Kucinich, who stood down in January after losing the Democratic nomination for his seat in the House of Representatives, said he doubted the allegations that President Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people.
"This is being used as a pretext," he said. "The verdict is in before the facts have been gathered. What does that tell you?" said Kucinich, adding that the Obama administration was "rushing" toward a possible "World War 3."Questions from Congress
While Kucinich is one of the most consistent opponents of US intervention in the Middle East, he is not the only US politician to question military action against Syria.
While US Secretary of State John Kerry has pointed to "undeniable" evidence of Assad's involvement in the chemical attack in Damascus, and White House spokesman Jay Carney has accused Assad of violating "an international standard," a number of US lawmakers have questioned spoken military strikes on Syria without the issue being brought before Congress.
Twenty-one Republicans and one Democrat have signed onto a House letter to President Obama demanding that any military action must be signed off on by Congress.
"Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution," says the letter, which was initiated by Republican Congressman Scott Rigell.
"Before engaging in a military strike against Assad's forces, the United States must understand that this action will likely draw us into a much wider and much longer-term conflict that could mean an even greater loss of life within Syria," said Senator Chris Murphy, urging the Obama administration to "continue to exercise restraint, because absent an imminent threat to America's national security, the U.S. should not take military action without Congressional authorization."
"Congress must be engaged and we must be sensitive to the needs of the American people and the Syrian people," Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee said.
The Syrian government has warned that an assault on the country would not be easy for Western powers.
"We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal," Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told a televised news conference. "The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves."