News / Middle East

US Senators Urge Stronger Response to Syria Crisis

Senator John McCain speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 22, 2013, about the situation in Syria.Senator John McCain speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 22, 2013, about the situation in Syria.
x
Senator John McCain speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 22, 2013, about the situation in Syria.
Senator John McCain speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 22, 2013, about the situation in Syria.
Michael Bowman
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators wants the Obama administration to boost direct assistance to Syrian opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, help neighboring countries care for Syrian refugees, and increase pressure for regime change in Damascus.  
 
Republican Senator John McCain led a delegation of lawmakers that recently returned from a trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan.  At a news conference Tuesday, McCain relayed messages the group received from Syrian opposition leaders and refugees.

“We heard desperate pleas for U.S. support and assistance," said McCain. "There was a desire for weapons and ammunition, for a no-fly zone, and for our government to channel humanitarian assistance - not to international NGOs as the [Obama] administration is currently doing but rather directly through the Syrian opposition coalition - which would strengthen its legitimacy and capacity.”

Several senators said they were struck by the growing anger expressed by refugees who believe the United States is doing too little to bring about change in Syria.

Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, “The situation in Syria is getting increasingly dire. And it appears the Assad administration is dug in pretty hard.  So there is a real danger of the warfare prolonging, and while it prolongs having the Syrian state devolve into potentially ethnically-cleansed enclaves, and a huge vacuum left for jihadis and extremists to launch attacks from.”

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte urged continued pressure on Russia and Iran to stop the flow of arms to the Assad regime. Democratic Senator Chris Coons said the United States can and must do more to address a worsening humanitarian crisis in and around Syria.

The senators said they have signed a letter to President Obama detailing their findings, concerns, and recommendations.

The Obama administration has been wary of direct U.S. military involvement in Syria, but insisted President Assad’s rule will end. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland spoke earlier in the day.

“We need to all work together as an international community to hasten the day when this bloodshed ends and when we are turning the page and welcoming a transitional governing structure that can give Syria a better and different future," said Nuland.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon struck a somber note on Syria, describing the situation as a "calamity."

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
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 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.
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