McCain Meets With Rebel Leaders in Syria

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 27 2013 2:39 PM

Sen. John McCain Sneaks Into Syria, Meets With Rebel Leaders

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Sen. John McCain speaks during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum on May 25

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain sneaked into Syria Monday, becoming the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to visit the country since it descended into civil war more than two years ago. McCain’s visit to Syria was first reported by the Daily Beast and later confirmed by CNN and Politico. McCain entered Syria through the Turkish border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. McCain then spent several hours in Syria and met with numerous rebel leaders who allegedly traveled from across the country to meet the man who has been one of the strongest advocates for stronger U.S. intervention in the civil war.

The rebel leaders allegedly called on the United States to increase support to Syrian rebels and provide them with heavy weapons. They also called for no-fly zones and airstrikes against the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, reports the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin.

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Divisions over whether to allow arms shipments to Syria rebels don’t just exist in the United States. On Monday, European Union ministers illustrated how they’re also divided on the issue as they debated whether to ease the current arms embargo against Syria that expires Friday. Britain is a strong advocate of relaxing the embargo while others say it will increase deaths and hurt the EU’s position as a potential peace broker, reports the Associated Press. For its part, France said there is an increasing amount of evidence that chemical weapons are being used in the conflict.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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