U.S. Senator John McCain on Thursday repeated his call for his country to take action in the civil war in Syria, Al Arabiya reports.
McCain was quoted as having said in a speech that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will make no effort to end the country’s civil war as long as he is winning on the battle field.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is “delusional,” he added in the foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“The longer we wait to take action, the more action we will have to take,” the Arizona Republican said, according to Al Arabiya, noting that there are no easy options to ending Syria’s civil war, which has killed 80,000 according to UN figures.
McCain added that Syria’s civil war is fueling sectarian conflict across the region, a dangerous situation that Iran is exploiting, he stated.
“A sectarian battle line is being drawn through the heart of the region — with Sunni extremists, many allied with Al- Qaeda, dominant on one side, and Iranian-backed proxy forces dominant on the other.
“The entire Middle East is now up for grabs, and our enemies are fully committed to winning … The only power that is not fully committed in this struggle is us,” he said.
The speech comes a week after McCain visited Syria, becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country since the start of the war in March 2011.
In Syria he met with Free Syrian Army commanders. During his speech on Thursday he said that they had all told him, “Assad has turned the tide of battle on the ground. His foreign allies have all doubled down on him. Iran is all in. Russia is all in. Shiite militants are flowing into the fight from Iraq. And Hizbullah fighters have invaded Syria by the thousands.”
McCain has long been a vocal opponent of President Barack Obama's Syrian policy. The U.S. and Britain recently said they have "credible evidence" that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, increasing the pressure on Obama to act, as he has said that the use of such weapons would cross a red line.
On Tuesday, France also revealed that it had firm evidence that sarin gas had been used by the Syrian regime in at least one case.
The White House, however, reiterated that it needed more evidence before declaring formally that sarin gas has been used in Syria.
“We need to expand the evidence we have ... before we make any decision,” spokesman Jay Carney said, alluding to President Barack Obama’s stated position that use of the deadly nerve agent would be a “game-changer” for Washington.