HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Connecticut politicians and academics alike are expressing deep concern about possible escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Connecticut’s congressional leaders say the gravity of this moment should give everyone pause. A local expert on international relations is also in agreement.

“This is the equivalent of the Iranians assassinating the U.S. Secretary of Defense,” said Senator Chris Murphy.

Related: Leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force killed in US airstrike near Baghdad airport

Iranian top military leader Qasem Soleimani was a so-called enemy of the United States with American blood on his hands

Still, Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is concerned Soleimani’s death by a U.S. airstrike will be taken as an act of war.

“The question we have to be asking ourselves today is whether Qasem Soleimani is more dangerous to the U.S. alive or dead as a martyr who will now rally the Iranian government and Iranian proxies around the region to do even more harm to American interests,” said Murphy.

The strike follows several days of tensions with Iran after the killing of a U.S. contractor. Iran’s supreme leader is now talking about revenge.

Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal warn this latest action could lead to greater harm of U.S. citizens and interests in the Middle East.

Academic experts agree.

“Not an official declaration, but definitely an escalation and it is frightening,” said Marcos Scauso, Professor of Political Science, Quinnipiac University.

Quinnipiac University international relations expert Marcos Scauso says he’s shocked and concerned about consequences.

“Hopefully the lessons from Iraq are still fresh enough to remind us that going into war and putting troops on the ground and declaring official wars in the region is an endeavor that tends to be overly complicated,” said Scauso.

The president technically needs congressional approval to declare war. Earlier Friday he said this was an act to stop a war.