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Welch Urges Caution In Responding To Syrian Conflict

Congressman Peter Welch is urging members of Congress to remember the lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before sending military supplies to opposition forces in Syria.

Earlier this month, Welch was part of a Congressional oversight mission that traveled to a number of countries in the Middle East.

He says seeing almost half a million refugees at a camp along the Turkish – Syrian border was a sobering experience that highlighted the limits of what the United States can do in this conflict.

“The reality is, there is no good choice,” said Welch. “I mean you don’t have to go to Syria or even the Turkish border at a refugee camp to know that there is enormous heartache and suffering in a humanitarian disaster on a vast scale.”

Welch says there’s no question that Syria is in the middle of a civil war and he thinks it’s very dangerous for the United States to try to intervene militarily at this time.

“There’s an enormous risk that we “Americanize” what is a civil war,” said Welch. “So anyone, politicians foremost among them, who likes to suggest as an arm chair general that there’s easy and definitive way to provide a military solution to this festering civil war I think is mistaken. So I really urge caution.”

Welch says the removal of President Assad doesn’t necessary mean there will be peace in Syria because there are at least five different groups involved in this civil war.

“And within those factions you have people who while they’re united against Assad, are ready the moment that is over to start settling scores among themselves,” said Welch.

Welch says he’s also urging Congress to take a cautious approach based on the lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our ability to micromanage the outcome that’s not I don’t think within our ability,” said Welch. “I mean we went in there with good intentions and now Iraq we went in to rid it of Saddam, that government is supporting Assad, they’re literally supporters of Assad and supporters of Iran, so a lot of these things that we have the best intentions don’t quite work out.”

Welch says he’s hopeful that Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to negotiate a truce will be successful so that Congress won’t rush into a plan to arm some of the opposition groups in Syria.