Rep. Vargas supports president's plan on Syria - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Rep. Vargas supports president's plan on Syria

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Freshman Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, said Thursday that information he gleaned in a meeting with Obama administration officials led him to support a limited military strike on Syria.

Vargas said he met with Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and has seen classified documents.

"I've come to the conclusion after reading all the information, that we in fact should do what the president is asking us to do, and that is limited strikes against Syria," Vargas said. "We do have in place both the ships as well as other assets that are able at a moment's notice now to deliver a hard blow."

Vargas became the first member of the area's congressional delegation to support military involvement in Syria's civil war.

U.S. and British officials say the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used sarin gas to kill about 1,429 people, including 426 children, in an Aug. 21 attack on Ghouta, an eastern suburb of Damascus.

"What we're attempting to do here with this action is to show the world, and certainly show this dictator, that you can't use chemical weapons, that you can't gas your own children," Vargas said.

The congressman said he understood that most Americans oppose a military strike against Assad's government, but he said he now knows more about the situation since the briefing. It was unclear what kind of evidence or report he was shown.

Without elaborating, the Obama administration has said that tissue samples from Syrians killed Aug. 21 show that they were exposed to sarin gas.

There has to be "severe consequences" for using chemical weapons, he said.

The rest of the local congressional delegation is undecided about what to do.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday in favor of President Barack Obama's resolution to support a strike. The president canceled a planned visit to California next week to focus on Syria.

Producing or stockpiling sarin gas was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. At low doses, the nerve agent, which paralyzes lung muscles and causes asphyxiation, can be deadly within a minute.

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