(NEW YORK) — Senator John McCain’s visit to Syria last week was a secret, but he’s not holding back on what he thinks is the status of the two-year-long conflict and it isn’t good.
Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation Monday, the Arizona Republican accused the U.S. of sitting back and watching as President Bashar al-Assad gains “the upper hand” on the Syrian opposition.
McCain said the fighters that he met during his unannounced and quick sojourn into Syria from Turkey were neither al Qaeda or extremists elements but “some very strong and good people who are fighting for freedom and are being massacred as we speak.”
However, without help from Washington and the West, McCain said the previous contention one year ago that al-Assad looked like he was on his way out doesn’t apply anymore.
Repeating the assessment of Middle East analysts who say that the Syrian government has been boosted by Russian and Iranian weapons as well as Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, McCain said the quickest way to help the Syrian opposition is with a no-fly zone that would not entail any direct U.S. military involvement.
Meanwhile, as far as the upcoming peace summit in Geneva is concerned, McCain expressed doubts al-Assad would send representatives as long as he’s prevailing on the battlefield.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Holly Yan and Nadeem Muaddi, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Arthur Brice, CNN