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Statement by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham on Syria


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on Syria:

"Today, Secretary Kerry praised Syria's compliance with the United Nations Security Council's resolution calling for the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria as a "good beginning.' We disagree. Secretary Kerry's appraisal overlooks the fact that, weeks ago, the Syrian government had been observed moving its chemical weapons after Russia originally proposed its international monitoring plan. Since then, additional reports have come to light, in particular from a former Syrian government official with intimate knowledge of the chemical weapons program, alleging that the government has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to sites dispersed around the country and outside it, including possibly into Lebanon and Iraq. If true, this development would give rise to grave concern and must be corroborated as true or false by the intelligence community. Such actions by the Assad regime would indicate that it intends to preserve parts of its chemical weapons arsenal and make it more difficult for the international community to track. It could also put chemical weapon stockpiles within the grasp of Hezbollah and Iranian forces that threaten U.S. allies and interests. We must never allow these terrorist forces to acquire chemical weapons and must be prepared to take all reasonable measures to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons to Hezbollah and its sponsors.

"Any unauthorized movement of chemical weapons by the Assad regime raises questions about the Syrian government's commitment to implementing the UN resolution on destroying its chemical weapons arsenal and suggests that the Syrian government is not adhering strictly to its pledged commitments. Assad continues to deny responsibility for the chemical weapon attack on August 21st. Our government should be wary of precipitously appraising the Assad regime's conduct as reflecting good will. We encourage the international community to be similarly cautious in its praise for the Syrian government and to judge the Syrian government on its actions, not words. We should appraise the events taking place in Syria and the current initiative with caution and monitor their actions closely in order to prevent Syria from using the UN resolution as a tool to gain more time and press its military campaign against the Syrian people. We must not forget that while the Syrian government is being lauded for committing to the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal, Russia and Iran continue to supply Bashar al-Assad with large amounts of conventional weapons for his unabated massacre of innocent men, women, and children."

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