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Sen. Mark Kirk said Monday the United States should launch a cruise missile strike at the Syrian unit responsible for using chemical weapons on civilians there.

Kirk, R-Ill., who was in the Quad-Cities to meet with representatives and to visit the Rock Island Arsenal, said the gassing of civilians should be met with swift action.

"My hope is to find the military unit that possibly was involved and hit their headquarters to cause a direct price for gassing civilians," he said. "I think there needs to be consequences."

He likened a strike to the 1998 attack on Iraq, which was aimed at curbing its weapons of mass destruction.

Kirk rejected any extended U.S. military involvement in Syria, however. He said that he opposed any "boots on the ground" and that a Naval strike would prevent any exposure by U.S. air crews.

"A proportional response with cruise missiles would, I think, be a better way to go," he said.

Kirk said the strike would embolden the rebels, and he expressed his belief Syria's leader, Bashar Assad, would be deposed.

"He's probably going to go the way of (Moammar) Gadhafi," the Libyan leader who was deposed and killed, Kirk said.

The pressure on the Obama administration to retaliate for the chemical strike has been building. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the evidence of chemical weapons use was "undeniable" and a "moral obscenity."

Kirk has been an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve since 1989. He was in the Quad-Cities on Monday for the first time since suffering a stroke last year.

He met privately with local employers, visited Lock and Dam 15, then toured the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center at the Arsenal. He also met with reporters.

At the Arsenal, he was accompanied by Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO Tara Barney and East Moline Mayor John Thodos.

Kirk, who was in a wheelchair during the news conference, emphasized his support for a defense spending bill authored by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that assists the Arsenal, including $150 million for the military account that funds the JMTC, as well as other activities across the country.

Area officials also met with him about seeking help to boost public-private partnerships on the island.

While members of different parties, Kirk said he and Durbin are in step in supporting the Arsenal.

As for his first trip to the area since 2011, Kirk said he's been happy to spend August on the road.

"I've got 12 million bosses in the state," he said.