U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today issued the following statement on Syria:
"In a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, I asked General James Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, a series of questions about America's capability to take greater action to change the military balance of power in Syria. In particular, I asked General Mattis whether the United States has the capacity to significantly weaken both the Assad regime's airpower and its increasing use of SCUD missiles, which have killed hundreds of civilians in recent weeks and pose significant risks as delivery vehicles for chemical weapons.
"I was very encouraged to hear that General Mattis agrees the United States has the capability to destroy a "fair amount' of the Assad's regime's operational aircraft on the ground using stand-off weapons that would not require a larger campaign against Syria's air defense systems. Moreover, General Mattis agreed that the United States could utilize the six Patriot missile batteries that have been deployed by NATO to the Syrian-Turkish border in order to help defend a no-fly zone over a significant portion of northern Syria -- an action that requires no American boots on the ground and could help deny the Assad regime's use of the air power, including SCUD missiles, in northern Syria. Let's not forget that these SCUD missiles can be used to launch chemical weapons, and the United States must take action to prevent such an outcome.
"After two years, more than 70,000 people dead, millions displaced, and growing threats to U.S. national security interests, it is clear the time to act in Syria is long overdue. But as General Mattis' testimony this morning makes clear, there are still steps we could take that would save lives in Syria."