Senator John McCain urges air strikes on Syria

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 5, 2012 3:01pm EST

Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference in Tripoli February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Anis Mili

Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference in Tripoli February 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Anis Mili

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria through air strikes on President Bashar al-Assad's forces, U.S. Senator John McCain said on Monday.

"The ultimate goal of air strikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad," McCain, an influential Republican, said in remarks on the Senate floor.

McCain has previously called for efforts to arm the Syrian opposition. But he said on Monday the help Syrian rebels needed most urgently was "relief from Assad's tank and artillery sieges in the many cities that are still contested" in Syria.

The battered city of Homs is "lost for now," but other cities are not, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said.

The Obama administration has thus far stressed seeking a political solution to the crisis. Last month, the White House said it did not rule out "additional measures" if a political solution turned out to be impossible.

"The time has come for a new policy," said McCain, who lost the race for the White House to Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. "Assad needs to know that he will not win."

"These safe havens could serve as platforms for the delivery of humanitarian and military assistance - including weapons and ammunition, body armor and other personal protective equipment, tactical intelligence, secure communications equipment, food and water and medical supplies," said McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He said the safe havens could also help the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups in Syria train and organize themselves into more cohesive and effective military forces, "likely with the assistance of foreign partners."

While there would not be a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria because of Russian and Chinese opposition, McCain said, the United States should seek the active involvement of key Arab partners such as Saudi Arabia, and NATO allies such as Turkey.

The United Nations says over 7,500 civilians have died in Syria's nearly year-long crackdown on protests against Assad's government.

(Reporting By Susan Cornwell; editing by Todd Eastham)

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Comments (15)
fromthecenter wrote:
Has this guy ever not wanted us to bomb somebody everytime there is a conflict anywhere?

Mar 05, 2012 2:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
unclepie wrote:
Why do they call BOMBING “air strikes”? Is this expression supposed to make bombing somehow OK?

The US bombed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with as many bombs as all the bombs used in world war two…high explosives, cluster bombs, napalm, “agent orange” chemical poisons, and apart from all the killing and maiming, what purpose was served?

Mar 05, 2012 3:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
neahkahnie wrote:
Read some histories on Allied bombing of Syria or Iraq in the 1920s. Learn some history. Who is the opposition, anyway? Who represents them?

Mar 05, 2012 3:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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