Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke with Alhurra Television’s Congressional Correspondent Rana Abtar about the White House declaration that it believes the Syrian government is using chemical weapons against the rebels and about the role of the U.S. and international community in Syria. Below are excerpts of his interview.
McCain on the White House statement regarding nuclear weapons in Syria:
It is old news, and also it’s interesting that the President said that was a red line, and we now believe that 100-150 people were killed with chemical weapons. Who killed the other 93,000 while we sat by and watched this massacre take place? This is now turning into a regional conflict obviously, and the United States has written a shameful chapter in its history.
McCain on the types of weapons needed in Syria:
They need heavy weapons. They need anti-tank weapons, anti-air weapons, but they also have to have a safe zone. Just supplying them with weapons will not change the situation on the battlefield. We have to neutralize [Assad’s] air capabilities, and we can do that with cruise missiles and moving the Patriot missile batteries closer to the border. We do not have to have American boots on the ground, and we don’t have to have American manned aircraft flying over Bashar al-Assad’s air defenses.
McCain on U.S. involvement in Syria:
News reports are clear this morning that there are lethal weapons being provided. But again I want to emphasis that this is not enough. The Russians are sending their most sophisticated missiles and airplanes. Iran is all in. Hezbollah, by the thousands have come in. So to somehow say we’ll just give them some weapons and have any optimism about the outcome is just foolish.
McCain on Russia’s role in Syria:
Obviously the Russians are not going to change. The only thing they will understand is a different equation on the ground. Remember a year, two years ago, and even recently, all of our military leaders were saying Bashar al-Assad, it is inevitable that he will fall, inevitable. Well does anybody believe today that it is inevitable Bashar al-Assad will fall? That’s because we refused to help them. And now it’s a regional conflict with Jordan in serious problems. Lebanon in danger of falling into sectarian strife again.
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