US Senator John McCain Visits Syrian Rebels


U.S. Senator John McCain has visited Syria to meet rebels in the war-torn country, his office has told the BBC.

The 2008 Republican presidential candidate has repeatedly called for the US to provide military aid to members of the Syrian insurgency.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers did not give details about the senator's visit.

News of the trip comes ahead of a planned meeting in Paris between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

According to US media reports, Sen McCain, the top Republican on the Senate armed services committee, entered Syria through Turkey and was on the ground there for several hours.

The opposition leaders he met reportedly called for weapons to continue their fight, as well as a no-fly zone and air strikes on government targets.

Sen McCain becomes the highest ranking US official to travel to Syria, where an estimated 70,000 people have been killed since violence broke out in March 2011.

The US currently provides humanitarian aid to opposition groups in Syria.

In March 2012 he called for the US to conduct air strikes in Syria, saying it would protect civilians and help force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

The hawkish senator had also supported US intervention in Libya in 2011, calling for the establishment of a no-fly zone there.

Story source: BBC