McCain secretly visits Syria

Senator McCain visits Kurdish-held region of Syria, meets United States military officials.

Ben Ariel ,

John McCain
John McCain

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) secretly visited the Kurdish-held region of Syria during a trip to the Middle East last weekend, where he met with United States military officials, The Hill reported Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for McCain later confirmed the trip in a statement.

“Senator McCain traveled to northern Syria last week to visit U.S. forces deployed there and to discuss the counter-ISIL campaign and ongoing operations to retake Raqqa,” the spokeswoman said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.

“Senator McCain’s visit was a valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the ground in Syria and Iraq. President Trump has rightly ordered a review of the U.S. strategy and plans to defeat ISIL,” she added, according to The Hill.

McCain traveled to the town of Kobane, which sits on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border and was under siege by ISIS forces in 2014, before they were successfully pushed out of the city by the Syrian Kurds.

This is not the first time that McCain has secretly visited Syria. He previously did so in June of 2013.

Syria later complained to the United Nations about McCain’s visit, claiming he entered the country without a visa in violation of its sovereignty.

McCain was a vocal opponent of former President Barack Obama's Syrian policy. He repeatedly called for his country to take action in the civil war in Syria, saying 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.

American lawmakers do not travel to Syria often, due to the civil war in the country which has been ongoing since 2011.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was critical of United States policy to arm moderate opposition groups fighting in the civil war, said last month that she met with Assad during her own secret trip to the war-torn country.