Republican Gabriel E. Gomez supports the United Nations instituting a no-fly zone over Syria, while Democrat Edward J. Markey opposes taking that action for now.
In interviews with the Globe today, the two Senate hopefuls weighed in on the growing conflict in the Middle East.
“I think that we’ve been slow on what we’ve been doing in Syria,” Gomez said. Markey, alternatively, advocated continued caution in growing US involvement in the civil war-torn country.
Gomez said he would be supportive of a no-fly zone over Syria, “enforced by the UN” but with the “US being part of that force that would enforce the no-fly zone.”
Markey said, “we have to be very cautious [about] instituting a no-fly zone over Syria. This could pull us into a direct military conflict with Syria and into the middle of a civil war.”
In recent days, White House officials have indicated increasing openess to arming some rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
“Arming the rebels. That’s an option,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said last week.
Neither Gomez nor Markey currently supports arming certain rebels fighting against the Syrian leader, though both said they were open to the idea that lethal aid might be necessary in the future.
“As conditions continue to deteriorate, we may need to revisit arming certain carefully-vetted elements of the resistance,” Markey said.
Gomez said he would be “supportive of the US providing more resources for the rebel group that we end up identifying as the one that is going to promote more peace and more democracy in the Middle East and that could be either...arms or” more humanitarian aid.
Gomez said it is important for the US to identify which rebel group it would be most advantageous to work with and then back it fully.
Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL, said American troops on the ground in Syria should be a last resort. But, he said, there could be a point where the humanitarian crisis got so bad, he would support boots on the ground.
“We’re not there right now,” Gomez said.
Markey a longtime US Representative, said he believed that, at present, American troops in Syria would be counterproductive and could “bolster the Assad regime.”
“I don’t think introducing American ground troops into Syria is a good idea,” Markey said.
The winner of the June 25 election will fill the seat of John F. Kerry, who resigned to be secretary of state.