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WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - A group of nations should get troops ready to invade Syria in order to secure possible stocks of chemical weapons, a senior U.S. senator said on Sunday.
Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said U.S. troops should not go into Syria, but that an international force must "be ready operationally" to go in and prevent Islamic militants involved in Syria's civil war from getting their hands on chemical weapons.
"There are number of caches of these chemical weapons. They cannot fall into the hands of the jihadists," McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential candidate and is an influential voice on military issues in the U.S. Senate, told NBC's Meet The Press.
More than 70,000 people have died in Syria's two-year-old civil war, and the White House said on Thursday the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad had probably used chemical weapons on a small scale in the conflict.
Syria denies using chemical weapons in the war.
The U.S. fears anti-Assad Islamist rebels affiliated to al Qaeda could seize the chemical weapons, and Washington and its allies have discussed scenarios where tens of thousands of ground troops go into Syria if Assad's government falls.