McCain to Obama: Up pressure on Assad

Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday urged President Obama to beef up sanctions against Syria as protesters and security forces there clashed anew.

“Despite a ferocious and desperate attempt by Bashar al Assad to beat the Syrian people into silence this week, thousands of courageous Syrians have returned to the streets in towns and cities across the country today to demand their rights," McCain said in a statement. "President Obama should expand sanctions immediately against those officials responsible for the dramatically expanded campaign of repression and violence in Syria, including Bashar al Assad personally."

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Assad is the president of Syria, where residents are calling for political and social reforms in another outbreak of such calls as part of the broader "Arab Spring" movement.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also joined the statement.

"We urge [Obama], together with our other allies around the world, to join the call of the protesters echoing across Syria today — that Bashar al Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead, and that it is time for him and his regime to go," the senators said in the statement. "We also urge our colleagues in the ... Senate to send a strong bipartisan message that we will stand with the Syrian people demonstrating for their freedom by passing the resolution we introduced earlier this week."

McCain and Lieberman led calls from Capitol Hill for the Obama administration to intervene in Libya, where U.S. and NATO aircraft and war ships eventually were sent to take on Moammar Gadhafi's forces after opposition elements clashed with that embattled leader's regime.