WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday that there was a "10-hour operation" ready to be carried out in Syria last August before President Obama announced he was going to go to Congress before taking action.
"I think the worst moment in U.S. foreign policy since I've been here, as far as signaling to the world where we were as a nation, was August a year ago when we had a 10-hour operation that was getting ready to take place in Syria but it didn't happen," Corker said onstage at the Foreign Policy Initiative's annual forum at the Newseum.
"And not only did it not happen but we didn't communicate with those folks that were going to be a part of it with us, until they watched the president on CNN," Corker said. "In essence, I'm sorry to be slightly rhetorical, we jumped in Putin's lap, and we are where we are today in Syria," Corker said, referring to the deal that was struck last year with Russia to get rid of the Syrian regime's chemical weapons stock.
The Obama administration had released few details of its planned action against Syria in August 2013, following a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
Asked to clarify his comments outside the forum, Corker said "I used the 10 hours to describe, that's my vernacular for an operation that was going to be very targeted, very brief, and hopefully have an impact."
"I think it's safe to say that during that period of time there were no ground forces ever contemplated," Corker said.
"Y'all have all read, it's been widely chronicled, that there was an evening walk" in which Obama decided to take the decision on air strikes to Congress instead of carrying them out without Congressional approval, he said.
The U.S. came close to striking Syria after the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against its own people last August. More than a year later, the U.S. is carrying out air strikes in Syria — but against ISIS, not Assad.