Policy & Strategy

McCain, Lieberman visit Syrian refugee camp, urge US to arm anti-Assad forces

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)
visited a Syrian refugee camp on the Turkey-Syria border Tuesday, as they
accused the international community of failing the people of Syria and called
for military action against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The pair met with leaders of the Syrian National Council and
Free Syrian Army and members of the anti-Assad resistance during their trip to the
Middle East.

{mosads}The senators’ visit to the camp in Hatay, Turkey, was
unrelated to a visit from United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who has proposed a
peace plan that’s supposed to begin taking effect Tuesday.

Annan said Tuesday that the Syrian government failed to send
a “powerful political signal of peace,” according to the BBC, and the
senators said in a joint statement there was no sign of Assad letting up.

“We respect Mr. Annan’s desire to find an end to the killing
in Syria,” the senators said. “Unfortunately, Bashar al-Assad does not share
this goal. That fact has been clear to many of us for months, but it should now
be undeniable for everyone.”

The senators have led the call for more action in Syria, including
supplying arms to the opposition and air strikes. The Obama administration has
opposed supplying arms to the rebels, warning that it could cause further
militarization.

McCain and Lieberman said that the international community is “failing the people of Syria” by only providing humanitarian aid. While they
acknowledged that the Obama administration was now providing communications
equipment to the opposition, they said, “that doesn’t do much against tanks.”

“It is not a fair fight,” the senators said. “Under these
conditions, no one should think that Assad will stop killing and leave power
anytime soon. Indeed, the unanimous opinion of everyone we have spoken with on
our visit is that there is no end in sight to the horrific violence in Syria.”

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