McCain: ‘Moving further’ from peace in Syria

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is worried that peace in Syria may be harder to achieve than ever, as international negotiators fail to reach agreement on a path forward to quell the violence.

“In fact, after three weeks of talks, we are moving further and further away from a peaceful political solution in Syria,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

In Geneva, a second round of negotiations to stop the country’s civil war ended on Friday without an agreement in sight. Representatives from the Syrian government and opposition forces could not even agree on an agenda in the deadlocked sessions.

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Top United Nations negotiator Lakhdar Brahimi held open the possibility of a future round of talks but did not set a date for the next round. Brahimi pointed a finger at the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for refusing to engage in substantive discussions.

The U.S. and Russia have for months butted heads over what to do in Syria.

Americans have claimed that Russia has been backing the Assad regime and is unwilling to use its leverage to create a new transitional government in Syria.

A White House official late on Friday blasted the “sorry record” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government and said it was incongruous to have a “happy Olympics” in Sochi while “supporting this regime as it kills people in the most brutal way.” 

McCain has advocated for an intervention in Syria to stop the killing, and he repeated the call on Saturday.

“The only way to achieve success at Geneva is to change the balance of power on the ground,” he said.

“There are options far short of an Iraq-style invasion that can, and should, be employed to change the calculation of the Syrian regime, stem the violence, and ultimately achieve a negotiated political solution.”

More than 130,000 people have died in Syria since the violence began nearly three years ago. Diplomatic talks aiming to end the civil war began in January.

Meanwhile, attacks have continued. Since talks began, an estimated 5,000 people have died.