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McCain: ‘It is time’ to assist Syrian people

FILE - In this March 28, 2012 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCain said in an interview posted online Friday that "foreign money" was helping fellow Republican Mitt Romney's presidential hopes and singled out one of his ally's most generous supporters. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz. ) (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Citing reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has escalated chemical attacks on Syrian citizens, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for more direct aid for Syrians by way of military action.

"It is long past time for the United States and our friends and allies to respond to Assad's continuing mass atrocities in Syria with decisive actions, including limited military strikes to degrade Assad's air power and ballistic missile capabilities," he said in a statement released Thursday.

In his remarks, McCain said it has been two years since President Obama's first call for Assad to step down from office and one year since Obama acknowledged Assad's use of chemical weapons, actions that "constitute the crossing of a red line."

Though the Obama administration has supplied Syrian rebels with arms, McCain maintained that Obama's appeals to Assad have "not been backed up by any real consequences" and have "rung hollow."

"As a result, the killing goes on," he said in his statement. "Assad remains in power, and his use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians apparently continues."

McCain spoke Thursday morning on CNN's "New Day,"  calling the attacks "horrific" and "outrageous."

"This gives a blank check to other brutal dictators around the world if they want to use chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction as well," he said.

When prompted for specific actions, McCain said his plan could be done very easily with "no boots on the ground" and "would not put a single life at risk."

"In a matter of a couple of days using standoff weapons, we could take out their runways, take out the 40 or 50 aircraft that they're using which is dominating the battlefields and the towns and the cities," he said. "We can supply the right kind of weapons to the rebels, establish a no-fly zone by moving Patriot missiles up to the border."

He elaborated on U.S. influence, remarking that the president of the United States could "no longer be taken seriously in the region." On Sunday, McCain made similar remarks about Egypt on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley," saying that the United States has "no credibility" in the country.

"Isn't it time?" he asked CNN's Kate Bolduan. "When does the United States, with very little cost, stand up for these people and stop this horrific — you can't look at those pictures without being deeply moved. Are we just going to let that go on?"

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C., where she web produces for The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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