McCain: ‘Regrettable’ if photo was taken with Syrian rebel kidnappers

A spokesman for Sen. John McCainJohn McCainDefense hawks gird for budget brawl Trump got harsher GOP reception than Bush on budget Armed Services chairman unveils .1B Asia-Pacific security bill MORE (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that it would be "regrettable" if the lawmaker had posed for a photograph with Syrian rebels involved in kidnapping Lebanese Shiite pilgrims.

The spokesman cautioned, however, that no one had identified themselves by the alleged kidnappers' names during McCain's meetings with opposition forces in Syria over the weekend.

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The Lebanon Daily Star reported Thursday that McCain took a photo with Mohammad Nour and Abu Ibrahim, who were identified by a freed captive as Syrian rebels who took part in the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims a year ago.

McCain, who tweeted a picture from his visit that allegedly included the kidnappers, was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria since the two-year civil war began.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said in a statement that none of the individuals McCain planned to meet were named Mohammad Nour or Abu Ibrahim. While a number of other Syrian commanders joined the meeting, none identified themselves by those names either.

Rogers said it would be “ludicrous” to suggest McCain condoned the kidnapping or had communications with those responsible.

“Senator McCain condemns such heinous actions in the strongest possible terms,” Rogers said.

“A number of the Syrians who greeted Senator McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and as always, the Senator complied. If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable.”

Carlo Muñoz contributed.