McCain Meets Syrian Rebels in Turkey, Calls For Greater Support Against ISIL
U.S. Senator John McCain met with members of the Syrian opposition in Gaziantep on July 1 amid a warning from fragmented rebels that they will lay down their arms in a week if they do not receive aid in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Following his meeting with representatives from the Syrian National Council (SNC), the rebel interim government, civil society activists, and commanders from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the senator called for a strategy to provide greater support to Syrian opposition as parts of efforts to defeat ISIL.
McCain said he had been given firsthand accounts of the “deteriorating security and humanitarian situation on the ground inside Syria, and how the recent offensive by ISIL in Iraq is shifting dynamics on the battlefield in favor of extremists in both countries.”
He added that the Syrian opposition was fighting a two-front war against the Bashar al-Assad regime on the one side and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist organizations like ISIL on the other.
“We need a strategy that can force al-Assad to leave power and defeat ISIL in both Syria and Iraq, and that strategy should start with greater support to these Syrian opposition forces, especially vital military training and assistance, such as anti-armor and anti-air capabilities and support for creating a safe zone in Syria,” the senator said. ISIL renamed itself simply as the Islamic State (IS) after its leader declared a new Islamic state in lands seized last month across a swathe of Iraq and Syria.