News Max on June 2, 2013, reported that Sen. John McCain, just home from a secret trip into Syria to meet rebels trying to oust President Bashar Assad, says the United States must provide aid to prevent the conflict from becoming regional. Excerpts below:
“Anybody who believes that Bashar Assad is going to go to a conference in Geneva when he is prevailing on the battlefield, it’s just ludicrous to assume that,” McCain said.
The rebels he met with are tough, battle-hardened and dedicated, he said. “They are not al Qaida. They are not extremists.”
The United States should be helping the rebels by ensuring a no-fly zone, he said, adding that Israel has shown the Syrians can be hit from a distance. He suggests “cratering” their runways with standoff missiles, not manned aircraft, and providing the opposition leadership with a safe zone so they can enter the country to coordinate strategy.
It is in America’s strategic interest to see Assad go, McCain said. It would be blow to Iran and would cut off their connection to Hezbollah. He wants to see a road to democracy in Syria, McCain said, though he admits it will be difficult.
Assad now has the upperhand, he said, “while we sit by and watch.”