News / Middle East

US Lawmakers Discuss Aid to Syrian Rebels

Michael Bowman
— The Obama administration recently announced a boost in U.S. support for Syrian rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, including limited American military aid.  U.S. lawmakers disagree on the scale and immediacy of what should be provided to the rebels.

Republican Senator John McCain has long advocated a more muscular U.S. response to Syria’s civil war, including establishing a no-fly zone to protect civilians.  He renewed the call on the Fox News Sunday television program.

“It is air power that has given Bashar Assad this tremendous [military] advantage.  Look, 100,000 people have been killed [in Syria], 8,000 of them are children.  The massacre goes on, and it cries out for American leadership," he said.

American lawmakers are united in their desire to see an end to President Assad’s rule.  But some have expressed misgivings about the kind of government that might take shape in a post-Assad Syria.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer says the Obama administration must be careful U.S. assistance does not fall into the wrong hands.

"Syria has a broad range of groups.  Some are democratic, some are just Sunnis who have been oppressed by the Alawite minority.  Some are pretty bad.  Al-Nusra is an affiliate of al-Qaida.  So there is a lot of worry here.  It is a very difficult situation," he said.

Schumer also spoke on Fox News Sunday.  He noted a report by The New York Times that Qatar has sent clandestine shipments of shoulder-fired missiles to Syrian rebels, ignoring American concerns that such weapons could be used by Islamist militants to shoot down commercial airliners.

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