A photo posted of Senator John McCain by an SETF organizer, Mouaz Mustafa inside Free Syria, May 27, 2013. / INSTAGRAM/SOCCERMOUAZ
Sen. John McCain Monday became the highest-ranking U.S. official to enter Syria since the bloody civil war there began more than two years ago, The Daily Beast has learned.
McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria.
Idris praised the McCain visit and criticized the Obama administration’s Syria policy in an exclusive interview Monday with The Daily Beast.
“The visit of Senator McCain to Syria is very important and very useful especially at this time,” he said. “We need American help to have change on the ground; we are now in a very critical situation.”
Fighting across Syria has increased in recent weeks, with new regime offensives in several key areas, such as Damascus and the strategic border town of Qusayr. Thousands of soldiers serving Hezbollah—the Lebanon-based and Iran- and Syria-backed stateless army—have joined the fight in support of the regime, as the civil war there has threatened to ignite a region-wide conflagration and amid new reports of chemical weapons attacks by forces loyal to embattled president Bashar al-Assad this week that might cross President Obama’s “red line” for the conflict.
US Sen. McCain visiting Syria! (SOCCERMOUAZ)
Here’s another photo of Senator McCain in Syria.