Tags: McCain | Syria | rebels

McCain: US Must Aid Syrian Rebels to Prevent Regional Conflict

Image: McCain: US Must Aid Syrian Rebels to Prevent Regional Conflict
In this photo provided by U.S. Sen. John McCain on his Twitter site, McCain visits troops at a Patriot missile site in southern Turkey on May 27.

By    |   Sunday, 02 Jun 2013 12:28 PM

Sen. John McCain, just home from a secret trip into Syria to meet rebels trying to oust President Bashar Assad, says the United States must provide aid to prevent the conflict from becoming regional.

For the past year or two, the word has been that Assad would ultimately be defeated, McCain, an Arizona Republican, said on CBS' "Face the Nation." But that is no longer a certainty, with outside help pouring in to his regime. Iran and Hezbollah are involved on the Syrian government's side, and Russia is providing weapons.

"Anybody who believes that Bashar Assad is going to go to a conference in Geneva when he is prevailing on the battlefield, it's just ludicrous to assume that," McCain said.

The rebels he met with are tough, battle-hardened and dedicated, he said. "They are not al Qaida. They are not extremists."

The United States should be helping the rebels by ensuring a no-fly zone, he said, adding that Israel has shown the Syrians can be hit from a distance. He suggests "cratering" their runways with standoff missiles, not manned aircraft, and providing the opposition leadership with a safe zone so they can enter the country to coordinate strategy.

It is in America's strategic interest to see Assad go, McCain said. It would be blow to Iran and would cut off their connection to Hezbollah. He wants to see a road to democracy in Syria, McCain said, though he admits it will be difficult.

"But compare that to the status quo," he said. "The status quo is the massacre goes on and Bashar Assad stays in power, and the spillover in the region turns it into a regional conflict. There's no good option."

Assad now has the upperhand, he said, "while we sit by and watch."

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Sen. John McCain, just home from a secret trip into Syria to meet rebels trying to oust President Bashar Assad, says the United States must provide aid to prevent the conflict from becoming regional. For the past year or two, the word has been that Assad would ultimately be...
McCain,Syria,rebels
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2013-28-02
Sunday, 02 Jun 2013 12:28 PM
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