(TheBlaze/AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain has quietly slipped into Syria for a meeting with Syrian rebels. Rachael Dean, a spokeswoman for the politician, confirmed that the Arizona Republican made the visit. That said, she has declined to give additional details.
The visit took place amid meetings in Paris involving efforts to secure participation of Syria’s fractured opposition in an international peace conference in Geneva. The Daily Beast has more about the alleged details surrounding the trip, including information about meetings that purportedly unfolded between McCain and rebel forces:
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.
“The visit of Senator McCain to Syria is very important and very useful especially at this time,” Idris said of the politician’s visit. “We need American help to have change on the ground; we are now in a very critical situation.”
Two years of violence in Syria has killed more than 70,000 people. President Barack Obama has demanded that Syrian President Bashar Assad leave power, while Russia has stood by Syria, its closest ally in the Arab world.
McCain has been a leading proponent of arming the rebels and other aggressive military steps against the Assad regime. Read more about McCain’s alleged visit to Syria.