U.S. plans for strikes against Syria may be coupled with increased support for rebel forces in that country’s civil war, two leading Republican senators said after meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday.
Obama met in the Oval Office with Sens. John McCain, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the White House said. After the meeting, McCain and Graham said the United States needs to help the rebels reverse battlefield gains by troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We still have significant concerns, but we believe there is in formulation a strategy to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and to degrade the capabilities of Bashar al-Assad,” said McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The United States and several of its leading allies accuse al-Assad’s forces of resorting to poison gas attacks against rebel forces and civilians, including an August 21 attack near Damascus the Obama administration says killed more than 1,400 people. Obama said Saturday that the use of chemical weapons is “a challenge to the world” that threatens U.S. allies in the region — but he said he would seek the authorization of Congress before unleashing American force.
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