By Carlo Muñoz - 08/24/13 03:06 PM EDT
The ongoing delays on a White House decision to take military action against embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad are essentially a "green light" to the regime to continue its bloody campaign against rebel forces in the country, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said late Friday.
"When we do nothing, not only do they have a green light, but this gives a green light to brutal dictators all over the world they can do the same thing," McCain said.
McCain's comments come after recent reports of chemical weapon use by Assad forces against anti-government rebels in and around the capital city of Damascus.
While the Obama administration is reportedly formulating plans for military options in Syria in the wake of the chemical weapon allegations, McCain says such efforts are too little, too late.
"We know he's already done that, and there has been absolute proof he's already done that. So it should have surprised no one if he does it again in far greater impact," McCain said of the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons.
"He will do it again because we have given him, instead of a red line, we've given him a green light and to do that and many other atrocities committed," the Arizona Republican said during an interview with CNN.
McCain has been a harsh critic of the White House's strategy of economic and diplomatic sanctions to end the three-year civil war in Syria.
On Thursday, when news of the chemical weapons attacks in Damascus broke, McCain said U.S. inaction in Syria had severely damaged America's reputation in the region and across the world.
"Our friends and enemies alike, both in the Middle East and across the world are questioning whether America has the will and the capacity to do what it says," he said in a statement.
But that inaction may soon be coming to an end.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters on Friday that President Obama has asked commanders to prepare military options for Syria.
The administration's national security team is expected to meet with the president on Saturday to discuss those options.
Late Thursday, Obama described the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria as "a big event of grave concern" as advisers reportedly huddled at the White House to contemplate a military strike.
He did not suggest military action was imminent, but said his administration was gathering additional information about the alleged attack.