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Keith Ellison explains why he's leaning toward supporting Syria strike [VIDEO]

Ellison believes the U.S. has an obligation to act.
Ellison believes the U.S. has an obligation to act.

Yesterday, Keith Ellison went on WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy to explain his (preliminary) support for a military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

SEE ALSO: Keith Ellison: "Let's say that the war on drugs is over" [INTERVIEW]

Ellison made clear during the interview that he believes the U.S. and other countries have "a responsibility to protect civilian populations from genocide, mass atrocity, [and] ethnic cleansing."

"Now this introduction of sarin gas to commit a mass atrocity -- 1,400 killed by it -- is a dramatic escalation," Ellison said. "That's whats going on here, and we can do nothing or we can do something, but we can't deny that this has happened and the world has a responsibility."

Ellison acknowledged that a majority of his constituents don't support U.S. military involvement, but suggested America's moral obligation to prevent innocents from being slaughtered trumps popular opinion.

"What's in my head is Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur, and look -- I was against Iraq, against Afghanistan, but I am of the mind that we have a duty to protect civilians -- innocent civilians -- when they are subject to gas attacks like what happened," Ellison said, adding that while "we started a war in Iraq," the situation in Syria is different.

"We're not trying to be the world's policeman," Ellison said. "If we were doing that we would've been there back in March 2011 when they were killing 20,000. Now there are 120,000 [dead] and this gas thing is the trigger for me."

Ellison only supports a "limited strike," however. He said he wants military action to be limited to 60 days and isn't in favor of any sort of ground invasion of Syria.

If you'd like to watch the interview for yourself, here you go:

Today, Ellison seemed to back off his seemingly unequivocal support for military action:

So here's how the entire Minnesota congressional delegation stands: Senator Franken and Rep. Betty McCollum are strong supporters of a U.S.-led military strike against Assad, while Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Collin Peterson, and Rep. Rick Nolan are staunchly opposed. In between those two extremes, Ellison and Rep. John Kline lean in favor of a strike, while Rep. Erik Paulsen leans against, according to an MPR report. Senator Klobuchar and Rep. Tim Walz are undecided (UPDATE: Walz is now opposed to a military strike).

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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