McCain: President to “Seriously Consider” Sending Weapons to Syrian Rebels

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(CNN) — Republican Sen. John McCain, who met with President Barack Obama on Monday, said the president would “seriously consider” sending weapons to the rebel forces in Syria on top of a military strike against the country’s regime.

“That means providing them not only weapons but the kind of weapons they need: anti-armor and anti-air.  AK-47s don’t do very well against tanks, so we discussed that and that that would be a course of action that the president would seriously consider, I guess is the best way to describe it,” the Arizona Republican said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

McCain and fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have been vocal proponents for a strategy that seeks to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, rather than take limited, punitive strikes against Syria.

Graham, who also met with Obama on Monday, gave harsh criticism of the president’s handling of the situation in Syria so far, including the Obama’s decision to seek Congressional authorization for military action more than a week after chemical weapons were used in Syria. With Congress still in recess, a vote is not expected until next week.

“This is about the most mismanaged situation I’ve ever seen since World War II, when they were trying to control the Nazis. This is bizarre,” Graham said in a separate interview on “New Day.”

McCain underscored a sense of urgency, saying the delay in taking action will worsen the situation in Syria and further complicate a potential U.S. intervention.

“To think that the Syrians aren’t making accommodations to the likelihood of a strike by moving their assets around, including military assets into civilian areas is foolishness. This kind of telegraphing punches could make our mission much more difficult and much more damaging to the civilian population. It’s frankly crazy,” he said.

While the administration announced this weekend it had positive results for traces of sarin used in Syria, some skeptics say it’s best to wait until the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors release their results from samples gathered last week. Those results could take up to three weeks. Others point to varying intelligence gathered from the U.S., France and the United Kingdom.

But McCain argued “we need no further proof.”

“I mean those bodies you saw stacked up with physical wounds, I mean, it’s clear that the issue is chemical weapons. He’s already used them, it’s been proven,” he said.

It’s now up to Congress to weigh in on whether the U.S. should take action, though the president has said he maintains the right to act unilaterally. So far, most lawmakers indicate they’re undecided on the issue and many are waiting to hear what the administration says in congressional hearings and more classified briefings this week.

Graham said he hopes Congress will get behind the idea of a military campaign and weapons upgrade for the rebels, otherwise, he said, “the worst is yet to come.”

“This vote is going to be too close to call right now, and if we lost this vote, oh my God, I can only imagine how it would make us look throughout the world. But if we have a weak response, that’s just as bad. So the president needs to up his game,” he said.

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