Tags: | Al-Qaida | Barack Obama | Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | John McCain | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism

John McCain: Syrian Rebels' Defeat Proves Strategic 'Disaster'

By    |   Monday, 03 Nov 2014 09:14 PM

After the demoralizing surrender of moderate Syrian rebels armed by the United States, Sen. John McCain blasted the White House strategy against the Islamic State (ISIS) as "half-hearted" and a "disaster."

The United States had been counting on rebels in the groups Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to be part of a ground force that would attack ISIS militants, the British newspaper Telegraph reports.

Over the weekend, their defeat came at the hands of al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, the Telegraph reports.

"Jabhat al-Nusra's victory over moderate opposition forces in northern Syria over the weekend serves as strong authentication that the administration's current strategy in Syria is a disaster," McCain said, The Hill reports.

McCain, an Arizona Republican, said President Barack Obama's strategy is also alienating potential allies in Syria.

The Hill reports that rebels are angry that airstrikes have avoided targeting the Syrian regime, and that U.S. airdrops of arms and supplies have focused on Syrian Kurds in Kobani, near Turkey, and ignored other rebel groups, The Hill reports.

"Applying a half-hearted bombing campaign without seriously undertaking complementary efforts to train and assist local forces and protect civilians in Syria is simply doomed to fail," McCain said, The Hill reports.

"It is time for this administration to stand by our Syrian allies, as it has done for other communities in Iraq and Syria, and move quickly to support moderate opposition forces fighting against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra and protect the Syrian people from [Bashar] Assad's deadly air campaign."

Anything less, he said, would risk causing the Islamic State to "metastasize."

McCain has been a vocal advocate of more airstrikes against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, and also supports training and arming Syrian rebel forces.

His views may carry more weight if Republicans gain control of the Senate in elections Tuesday; McCain could become chairman of the Armed Services Committee if the GOP claims a majority.

In his sharp blast at Obama, McCain criticized his plan to train at least 5,000 moderate rebels because it won't get forces onto the field until next summer at the earliest, The Hill reports.

"Much of the president's stated strategy relies heavily on having a local force on the ground capable of fighting ISIS," McCain said, The Hill reports. "Yet despite vocal support for moderate opposition fighters in Syria, the administration has continuously failed to match its actions with its rhetoric, providing little meaningful support to those fighting and dying in the battle against ISIS.

"This failure complicates the task of finding reliable coalition partners on the ground and generates anger and resentment among the Syrian people, which only benefits our adversaries," he added.

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After the demoralizing surrender of moderate Syrian rebels armed by the United States, Sen. John McCain blasted the White House strategy against the Islamic State (ISIS) as "half-hearted" and a "disaster."
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2014-14-03
Monday, 03 Nov 2014 09:14 PM
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