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McCain blasts Obama for 'half-hearted' bombing campaign

President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been a “disaster,” Sen. 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 said Monday.

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McCain cited reports that Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria had defeated two major groups of moderate Syrian rebels — the same forces that the United States is arming and training in their battle against President Bashar Assad.

“Jabhat al-Nusra’s victory over moderate opposition forces in northern Syria over the weekend serves as strong authentication that the administration’s current strategy in Syria is a disaster," McCain said in a statement.

Reports emerged over the weekend that the Syrian Revolutionary Front and the Harakat Haz — two groups backed by the U.S. — had surrendered to the Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front.

The surrenders were a blow to the U.S.'s plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to battle ISIS, and exposes the risks in arming moderate rebels with weapons that could fall into enemy hands.

McCain said the president's strategy is alienating key potential allies on the ground in Syria.

Rebels are also angered that the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS in Syria since September, but have avoided targeting the Syrian regime, which has stepped up attacks against the rebels.

And while the U.S. has dropped arms and supplies to Syrian Kurds in Kobane, it has not done so for other rebel groups.

Meanwhile, the president's plan to train at least 5,000 moderate rebels is not expected to field forces until next summer, at the earliest.

“Much of the president’s stated strategy relies heavily on having a local force on the ground capable of fighting ISIS. Yet despite vocal support for moderate opposition fighters in Syria, the administration has continuously failed to match its actions with its rhetoric, providing little meaningful support to those fighting and dying in the battle against ISIS," McCain said.

"This failure complicates the task of finding reliable coalition partners on the ground and generates anger and resentment among the Syrian people, which only benefits our adversaries," he added.

McCain has advocated for increased airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and has long supported training and arming Syrian rebel forces.

McCain would become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee if Republicans gain control of the Senate in the midterm elections on Tuesday, and would have a powerful platform to advance his views.

“Applying a half-hearted bombing campaign without seriously undertaking complementary efforts to train and assist local forces and protect civilians in Syria is simply doomed to fail," McCain.

"It is time for this administration to stand by our Syrian allies, as it has done for other communities in Iraq and Syria, and move quickly to support moderate opposition forces fighting against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra and protect the Syrian people from Assad’s deadly air campaign.

"Until such actions are taken, I fear that the threat posed by ISIS will continue to metastasize," he said.