Senators McCain, Graham demand no-fly zone in Syria

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Thursday that President Obama needs to do more than just supply weapons to the rebels in Syria.

The senators said Obama was going to announce that the United States would start aiding Syrian rebels fighting against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“Every bone in my body knows that simply supplying weapons will not change the equation,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “The president better understand that just supplying weapons will not change the balance.”

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McCain and Graham called on Obama to establish a no-fly zone and “take out” Assad’s air capabilities by “cratering” his runways with missiles. But they came short of calling for boots on the ground.

“We don’t want boots on the ground,” McCain said. “But we do know we can provide incredible assistance.”

Earlier Thursday, Obama recognized that Assad has used chemical weapons against his people, which Obama called a "red line" in terms of triggering U.S. involvement.

Graham said it’s in U.S. interests to stop Assad to help stabilize the region.

“We can shoot planes down without having boots on the ground,” Graham said. “My biggest fear about the war in Syria is that the chemical weapons fall in the hands of terrorists. ... Mr. President, you choose wisely today. We support you, but the goal is not to support the rebels but to win the war.”

McCain also called on Obama to address the nation to explain why this action was so important.

“It would be wise of the president of the United States to go on television and explain why we are stopping this genocide,” McCain said.

—This report was updated at 5:39 p.m.

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