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Sen. McCain makes trip to Syria to visit rebels

By Suzannde Gamboa

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:08 p.m. HST, May 27, 2013

WASHINGTON >> Sen. John McCain, a proponent of arming Syrian rebels, quietly slipped into Syria for a meeting with anti-government fighters today.

Spokeswoman Rachael Dean confirms the Arizona Republican made the visit. She declined further comment about the trip.

The visit took place amid meetings in Paris involving efforts to secure participation of Syria's fractured opposition in an international peace conference in Geneva.

And in Brussels, the European Union decided late today to lift the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition while maintaining all other sanctions against Bashar Assad's regime after June 1, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said following the meeting.

Two years of violence in Syria has killed more than 70,000 people. President Barack Obama has demanded that Assad leave power, while Russia has stood by Syria, its closest ally in the Arab world.

McCain has been a fierce critic of Obama administration policy there while stopping short of backing U.S. ground troops in Syria, but he supports aggressive military steps against the Assad regime.

Gen. Salem Idris, chief of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, accompanied McCain across the Turkey-Syria border. McCain met with leaders of the Free Syrian Army from across the country, who asked him for increased U.S. support, including heavy weapons, a no-fly zone and airstrikes on Syrian government and Hezbollah forces, according to The Daily Beast, which first reported the senator's unannounced visit.

The White House declined to comment late today.

A State Department official said the department was aware of McCain crossing into Syrian territory today. Further questions were referred to McCain's office.

Last Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to provide weapons to rebels in Syria, as well as military training to vetted rebel groups and sanctions against anyone who sells oil or transfers arms to the Assad regime. McCain is a member of the committee.


Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper in Paris contributed to this report.

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64hoo wrote:
go ahead send arms to the rebels and if they bring down assad regime, there regime is not any better. when all said and done the new regime will turn on us the same way bin laden did when we help them to fight the Russians in afghanastan. when will we ever learn.
on May 27,2013 | 03:38PM
kahuku01 wrote:
Has McCain coordinated with the President and Congress to represent the USA or is he trying to act like he knows what he's doing and using the taxpayers money to fund this trip. The government is already strapped with money and he wants to send arms to the rebel and acts like the man in charge or is he trying to undermine the duties of the president? Why don't he let the president make the decisions in determining how the US will deal with Syria. He had his chance on being the CINC and lost so why not keep quiet and do his job as a senator and support the president. He'll do more harm than good for our country and the rebels of Syria.
on May 27,2013 | 04:09PM
entrkn wrote:
Did McCain have his reliable sidekick Sarah Palin with him to advise him on everything?
on May 27,2013 | 05:18PM
Eradication wrote:
Wonder if McCain will visit with the rebel commander who cut a person open and ate his lung?
on May 27,2013 | 07:20PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The U.S. no longer calls Islamic rebels fighting regimes the U.S. doesn't like, "freedom fighters" anymore ... like the U.S. did during the 1980's in Afghanistan. After receiving high tech weapons and billions of $$$$ from the U.S., the rebels later paid the U.S. back with 9/11.
on May 27,2013 | 09:06PM
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