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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid