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McCain: Assad sees ‘green light’ from US to use chemical weapons

“It’s proven that he’s used them before so it shouldn’t surprise us when it’s used again, and he will use it again if he feels there’s not going to be any retaliation,” said McCain on CNN’s “New Day.” “When the president of the United States says that if he uses these weapons it will be a quote ‘red line’ and game changer, he now sees that as a green light.”

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McCain said the weak U.S. response to Assad showed that President Obama’s word “can no longer be taken seriously” in the Middle East.

McCain’s comments followed reports on Wednesday that the Syrian government had fired rockets loaded with chemical weapons, killing hundreds of civilians in a town near Damascus.

The White House condemned the attack, saying it was “deeply concerned” by the reports and “working urgently” to get more information.

The attack though raised pressure on the White House to take more decisive action against Assad.

In June, the administration said they had determined that Syria had used chemical weapons, crossing a “red line” and vowed to provide military support to rebel groups.

McCain said a limited U.S. military response along with the supply of weaponry to opposition forces seeking Assad’s ouster would help bring an end to that country’s bloody civil war with little risk to the United States.

“In a matter of a couple of days using stand-off weapons we can take out the forty or fifty aircraft they are using which is dominating the battlefields and the towns and the cities and we can supply the right kind of weapons to rebels to establish a no fly zone,” McCain said.

McCain said the measures could be implemented “easily” and “would not put a single [American] life at risk.”

The senator called footage of dead and wounded civilians “horrific and outrageous.”

“This gives a blank check to other brutal dictators around the world if they want to use chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, as well,” McCain said.

“Where does this stop? When does the United States at very little cost stand up for these people and stop this?” McCain asked.