News / Middle East

US Senator Enters Syria to Meet Rebels

Senator John McCain is pictured with U.S. troops at a Patriot missile site in southern Turkey, May 27, 2013 in this picture released via McCain's Twitter account.
Senator John McCain is pictured with U.S. troops at a Patriot missile site in southern Turkey, May 27, 2013 in this picture released via McCain's Twitter account.
VOA News
The Syrian opposition is welcoming what it calls an "extremely significant" visit by influential U.S. Senator John McCain, who made an unannounced trip to meet with rebels inside of Syria.

McCain's aides say he crossed from Turkey into Syria on Monday with rebel Free Syrian Army commander General Salam Idris.

Anas Abdah, a spokesman for the main opposition Syrian National Coalition, explained the importance of the senator's visit given his long-standing calls for greater assistance to the rebels.

"We think this is extremely significant because the senator has always supported the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution since its beginning," said Abdah.  "He has also fought very hard within his country, in the U.S., for his government to take an active role in supporting the Syrian revolution and also in arming the Free Syrian Army."

Rebel commanders who met with the senator urged the United States to provide them with weapons and ammunition, enforce a no-fly zone against President Bashar al-Assad's air force, and launch strikes against Pro-Assad Lebanese Hezbollah militants in Syria and Lebanon.

The U.S.-based Syrian Emergency Task Force, which supports the Syrian opposition, says it organized McCain's trip, and published several photos showing McCain inside Syria.

The group's executive director said in an interview with CNN that the senator and rebel commanders also discussed ways to "marginalize" extremists that have emerged in Syria, and that the Free Syrian Army assured McCain that any weapons it received would not fall into the wrong hands.

In an interview with U.S. news site The Daily Beast, which first reported the visit, General Idris said McCain met with rebels on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border. Idris said the rebels had come from all over Syria to meet the prominent U.S. lawmaker.

McCain is one of the leading voices in the U.S. Congress calling for increasing U.S. aid to the rebels. His brief visit to Syria makes him one of the most senior U.S. officials to enter the country since the anti-Assad rebellion evolved into a civil war after peaceful protests in March 2011.

The Obama administration has provided non-lethal equipment and humanitarian supplies to the rebels. But it has been reluctant to intervene further, fearing U.S.-supplied weapons could end up in the hands of anti-American Islamist rebels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 28, 2013 10:15 PM
No doubt he was escorted by US troops on the ground. Kudos for Mccain for trying to help these people. They need bazookas, communications, and heavy artillery for taking out the machinery Bashar is using to kill people. But most imporantly of ALL, they need the intelligence to inform them EXACTLY Bashar al Assads whereabouts. This is likely the most critical thing that the west can do for Syrians. If Bashar was taken out, this war would soon end. The world wants Bashar held accountable for all his murders.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More