McCain: No boots on the ground in Syria

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFor .2 billion, taxpayers should get more than Congress’s trial balloons Overnight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-Ariz.) ruled out the U.S. committing “boots on the ground” in Syria as he continued his calls for the Obama administration to get more involved militarily in the Syrian conflict.

On CBS's “Face the Nation,” McCain said Sunday that he has not advocated for troops or unilateral action in Syria, but wants the United States to lead a coalition to arm Syrian opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's regime and launch air strikes to give rebels a safe haven.

“For the United States to sit by and watch this massacre is a betrayal of everything we stand for and believe in,” McCain said.

McCain said that the communications and humanitarian aid the Obama administration has pledged to the Syrian opposition is not enough with Assad’s forces continuing their assault.

Assad’s forces stopped fighting on Thursday in a cease-fire that’s part of a peace plan from UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. But there were widespread reports of renewed violence on Saturday, as the UN Security Council approved sending observers to Syria.

The Obama administration has said it remains opposed to providing arms or taking military action in Syria, because it does not want to add to the violence there.

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McCain said that he was skeptical from the start about Annan’s peace plan, because it does not lead to the removal of Assad from power. He said the president’s policy was to remove Assad, and he should be leading an international coalition to take action.

“We need to get a sanctuary for the free Syrian army, need to get them supplies, need to get them weapons,” McCain said. “It’s not a fair fight.”

McCain said that providing arms didn’t mean giving them tanks, for instance, but it would entail giving them anti-tank missiles for use against Assad’s forces.

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