Arizona Sen. John McCain slipped into Syria for a meeting Monday with Syrian rebels, Fox News confirms.
The GOP lawmaker is one of Congress’ strongest advocates for increasing America’s role in Syria and became the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the country since civil war broke out there more than two years ago.
McCain crossed the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, The Daily Beast first reported. McCain met with rebel leaders who called on the U.S. to up its support by providing weapons, a no-fly zone and air strikes on President Bashar al-Assad backers.
In the two years since violence broke out in Syria, more than 70,000 people have been killed
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to provide weapons to rebels in Syria, as well as military training to vetted rebel groups and sanctions against anyone who sells oil or transfers arms to the Assad regime. McCain is a member of the committee and has questioned the Obama administration’s hesitation to become actively involved in the fight.
Many have argued against U.S. intervention and say a heavy American footprint in Syria could do more damage than good for the opposition.
Calls to the White House for comment were not immediately returned.
Gen. Salem Idris told the Daily Beast “The visit of Senator McCain to Syria is very important and very useful especially at this time. We need American help to have change on the ground; we are now in a very critical situation.”
“What we want from the U.S. government is to take the decision to support the Syrian revolution with weapons and ammunition, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons,” Idris said. “Of course we want a no-fly zone and we ask for strategic strikes against Hezbollah both inside Lebanon and inside Syria.”
Would this be like supporting the revolution in Libya that resulted with the overthrow of Muhammar Ghadaffi and the Al-Qaeda flag being flown over the capital? We also discovered that Barack Obama refused to send troops to guard the weapons depot there resulting in 20,000 missing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles being taken out of bunkers and the assumption was that Al-Qaeda had obtained them. Five thousand had been found at the time.
Elizabeth O’Bagy, political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force said, “This was the start of a really important engagement between various forces in the U.S. government and people in the civilian and armed opposition who are working together to fight for a free Syria.”
“Senator McCain proved today you can very easily go and meet with these people,” she said. “He’s the first U.S. senator to step foot in free Syria and one of the first government officials to reach out to the FSA officials and that’s a huge step.”
McCain told the Daily Beast that the Geneva conference would only allow for more time for Assad’s regime to strengthen its position against the rebels.
“I’ve been known to be an optimist, but here are the Russians sending them up-to-date missiles, continued flights of arms going into Syria, Putin keeps our secretary of State waiting for three hours … It doesn’t lend itself to optimism, all it does is delay us considering doing what we really need to do,” said McCain. “The reality is that Putin will only abandon Assad when he thinks that Assad is losing. Right now, at worst it’s a stalemate. In the view of some, he is succeeding.”
We have a fight between Hezbollah joining with the Assad regime and we have Al-Qaeda. Is this a choice between the lesser of two evils or a choice between two evils? Some believe it will lead to a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias which will engulf the entire region. What is certain is that these are all countries mentioned by name in the bible. As countries like Syria are fundamentally transformed, what emerges bears a striking resemblance to what is described by the prophet Daniel and the Apostle John.