US should arm Syrian opposition: McCain

2012-02-07 22:29

Washington - Senior Republican senator John McCain urged the United States on Tuesday to consider arming the opposition fighting the forces of Syria's President Bashar Assad.

"We should start considering all options, including arming the opposition. The blood-letting has got to stop," he told reporters.

McCain, who stopped short of calling for military intervention, made the remarks as he and other Republican senators were about to meet with visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

He also called for "a contact group, a joint coalition" on Syria but did not specify what that meant.

His comments came a day after the United States closed its embassy in Syria and pulled out all its staff, amid an escalating crackdown on the opposition by the Assad regime.

President Barack Obama shied away from talk of military intervention, however, and vowed to pursue diplomatic means.

Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violence, which human rights group say has claimed some 6 000 lives since the outbreak of the revolt almost a year ago.

US Senator John Kerry said the crisis in Syria was "very different" from events that led to Nato-led strikes in Libya and called for a new push to get Russia and China to back UN action.

"This is a very different playing field, very different set of players, very different set of possible prospects," he said as he met with Lieberman.

"I think we have to approach it differently. I think we have to condemn what is happening - and we have. I think we have to work very diligently with China and Russia to see if we can move them, change their positions," he said.

"I think we have to approach it as we are: thoughtfully but very clear about where our preferences lie," said Kerry.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, held talks in Damascus on Tuesday and insisted that Assad was "fully committed" to ending the bloodshed.

Read more on:    john mccain  |  bashar assad  |  john kerry  |  avigdor lieberman  |  syria  |  us  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
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