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John McCain skeptical of Russia’s plan for Syria

An injured boy is carried to a hospital after an explosion struck a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, July 23, 2016. Witnesses in Kabul say that an explosion struck the protest march by members of Afghanistan’s largely Shiite Hazara ethnic minority group, demanding that a major regional electric power line be routed through their impoverished home province. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

PHOENIX — When it comes to the Russian proposal that would see Syria hand its chemical weapons over to international organizations, Sen. John McCain isn’t exactly convinced.

“To rely on the people that have been supplying — planeloads every day of ammunition and arms come in to Syria in support of Bashar Assad — but somehow to think that these are the same people that are going to make sure all the chemical weapons are removed is a bit of a long reach,” the senator told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday.

McCain said it is unlikely that Russia — who he accused of aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s attempts to stay in power — is ready to help the United States out of goodwill.

“The Russians have never been of help to us and have continued to do incredible things for Syria,” he said.

McCain said that was further proven when Assad was on the verge of losing power two years ago. He alleged that Russia and Iran poured arms into the country and urged 5,000 Hezbollah fighters into the war to fight for Assad. During that time, McCain said the United States sent over food.

“That doesn’t do very well against tanks and artillery.”

A lack of support from the United States could see the rebels turn to al-Qaeda for help. The U.S. has been hesitant to send support over concern it could be indirectly arming terrorists.

“That’s one of the dangers of abandoning them,” McCain said, adding that the rebels are geographically divided from terrorist organizations.

McCain also said that Obama should not have made a speech Tuesday on the Syrian situation, especially when it seems he hasn’t made up his mind and ignored the rebels.

“He was kind of arguing two points,” McCain said. “One is that he needed to have the authority to act militarily and second arguing for pause while he examines or we consider the proposal of the Russians.”

McCain said he hoped to hear support for the rebels in Obama’s speech.

No matter what happens, McCain accepts that Syria is a mess and there is no right thing to do. However, the senator said getting rid of Assad is “least bad option.”

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