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Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) released the following statement on Russia’s growing presence and military action in Syria:

“Once again this Administration was caught flat-footed in Syria, failing to recognize and stop Russia’s military buildup. This didn’t happen overnight—it took weeks. Just today, Russia launched its first air strike in Syria, and reports suggest it wasn’t targeting ISIS.

“Russia’s intervention is a direct challenge to President Obama’s stated position that Assad must go.

“Russia’s intentions are far more nefarious than simply propping up Assad. Russia can and will begin to use its buildup in Syria to assert its influence in the Middle East and make it more difficult for U.S. forces to operate. Russian propaganda and Putin himself have claimed that their intervention in Syria is all about going after ISIS. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe this intervention is about propping up Assad and not principally focused on targeting ISIS.

“I also believe that Russia intends to target Syrian opposition forces as phase one to weaken the only credible alternative to Assad. The U.S. should not stand by idly as Russia attempts to undermine our interests yet again. We need to stop reacting to Putin and start setting the agenda.”