Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE (R-Fla.) hailed efforts to arm opposition forces seeking to topple Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, but said President Obama’s decision to aid the rebels may have come too late.

“Timing matters and these were options that were there for us a year-and-a-half ago,” said Rubio on ABC’s “This Week.”

Rubio said Obama had “failed” to identify pro-Western elements in the Syrian opposition sooner, leading to a situation where Islamic militants had gained the upper hand in the civil war. 

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“Now your options are quite limited, now the strongest groups fighting against Assad are al Qaeda linked elements,” he said.

“Our options now are really narrower than they were,” Rubio added.

Last week the Obama administration said Assad’s regime had crossed a red line with the use of chemical weapons and the White House announced plans to supply weapons to rebels. 

Republican Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (S.C.) are calling for more, including a no-fly zone over the country.


Rubio said if he had been calling the shots, the situation in Syria would not have been as dire and he would have acted more quickly. 

“We never would have gotten to this point.  We would have identified elements that we could have worked with, and we would have made sure that those elements, not the al Qaeda elements, were the best armed, best equipped and best trained,” said Rubio.

The Florida senator also addressed the election of moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani as the new president of Iran.

“I'm not all that optimistic.  At the end of the day, in order to have better relations, not just with the United States but with the world, Iran knows exactly what it needs to do.  It needs to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, and it needs to pledge to walk away from these things,” said Rubio. “Unfortunately, this gentleman who was just elected is a strong supporter of the nuclear program and the nuclear weaponization as well.”