POSTED: Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 5:15pm
UPDATED: Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 10:19am
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus announced Saturday he's behind the White House's plan for limited military strikes against the Syrian government.
In a statement, President Barack Obama's former CIA director called for Congress to support the administration's call for airstrikes against President Bashar al-Assad's forces, warning that rejecting the president's request would embolden "Iran, North Korea, and other would be aggressors."
"Failure of Congress to approve the president's request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world," Petraeus said.
Petraeus also said that the planned aerial assault "is necessary" to both enforce the international laws forbidding the use of chemical weapons and to "degrade the [Assad] regime's overall military capabilities."
Petraeus' statement was endorsed by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who described the retired general as "the most respected military leader of our time."
The administration says the Syrian government was behind a chemical weapons attack on August 21.
Though some in the military community have questioned just how effective Tomahawk missiles would be in impacting al-Assad's military assets, Petraeus's stamp of approval could give Republicans and Democrats in more conservative districts the necessary political cover to vote for a controversial resolution.
Petraeus' statement comes amid a renewed push by the White House to sell members of Congress on the administration's plan.
In addition to his scheduled address to the nation Tuesday evening, the President scheduled six interviews with major television outlets for Monday, including CNN's Wolf Blitzer.