Sen. Marco Rubio says the United States should provide ammunition to Syrian opposition forces in addition to humanitarian and other aid the United States is expected to announce Thursday.
The Florida Republican, speaking at an event sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, laid out his case for bullets instead of weaponry as Secretary of State John Kerry was preparing to meet with Syrian opposition leaders in Rome.
According to Politico
, Rubio, often mentioned as a 2016 presidential candidate, said U.S. humanitarian aid is a good step, but the United States should do even more.
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“There are plenty of weapons in Syria,” Rubio reportedly said. “What the opposition really needs is access to ammunition. And I think one of the things we can consider, if we can identify a couple of responsible groups, or more responsible groups, that we feel have built capacity, ammunition is something we can provide, which is not weaponry, but is essential to the weaponry.”
Rubio said as things stand now, the most radical elements in Syria will be the most well-armed if Syrian President Bashar Assad falls, “and he will fall.”
The senator, who visited the Middle East last week, said it would be in the best interests of the United States to win over people who will still be around after Assad is out of office.
“We should want the best-organized, best-equipped and most dominant groups in the opposition to be groups that are friendlier to our national interests than some of the other elements that are involved,” said Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I think it behooves us to do everything we can to ensure that the strongest elements in Syria post-Assad are those that are listening to us, can be influenced by us, and have a desire not just to keep the Syrian nation together but to respect the rights of the diverse country that Syria is,” he said.
Rubio, who has advocated taking a harder stand on Syria for some time, said Assad’s fall would also serve as the “ultimate sanction” against Iran and its support of terrorism.
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