David H. Petraeus, former CIA director under President Barack Obama, told POLITICO on Saturday that military action in Syria is "necessary" in order to deter other "would-be aggressors" such as Iran and North Korea.
Petraeus, whose public career was widely admired until his resignation last year due to an extramarital affair, added that "Failure of Congress to approve the president's request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world."
The U.S. Senate is due to vote on a resolution to authorize the use of military force as early as Wednesday. Leaders of the House of Representatives have not yet said when they would vote beyond saying consideration of an authorization is "possible" sometime this week.
Obama has asked Congress to approve strikes against Assad's government in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 Syrians.
But many Republicans and several of Obama's fellow Democrats have not been enthused about the prospect, partly because war-weary Americans strongly oppose getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict.
Petraeus played a key role in the Iraq war, led the U.S. Central Command and commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. His name had circulated speculatively as a possible Republican presidential nominee before Obama tapped him as CIA chief. Before taking the CIA post, he retired as an Army general after nearly four decades of military service.