(Photo: Reuters/Mike Theiler)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has refused to back a Senate resolution authorizing President Barack Obama to launch a limited military strike on the Syrian government, insisting that more aggressive measures need to be taken to end the deadly conflict.
"In its current form, I do not," McCain told The Associated Press on Wednesday, referring to a resolution put forth by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), which places a 90-day limit on military action in Syria and blocks U.S. troops from being sent into the troubled country.
McCain, who spent over five years as a prisoner of war in north Vietnam before beginning his political career, has agreed with Obama that the evidence points clearly that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the chemical attacks in August that killed at least 1,429 civilians, more than 400 of whom were children.
He previously warned in a joint statement with fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that military action against Syria must be meaningful and focused clearly at taking out Assad's regime.
"However, we cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President's stated goal of Assad's removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests," the statement read.
"Anything short of this would be an inadequate response to the crimes against humanity that Assad and his forces are committing. And it would send the wrong signal to America's friends and allies, the Syrian opposition, the Assad regime, Iran, and the world – all of whom are watching closely what actions America will take."
McCain's refusal to back the current plan on Syria comes at a time when the U.S. is still deciding on how exactly to proceed in a conflict that analysts have said appears to be without a resolution. World powers such as Russia and China have warned Obama that military strikes in Syria will only further destabilize the region, while long-time allies like the U.K. have voted against participating in any such operations.
Obama has said that the U.S. will carry out an attack on Syria regardless of how much international support he receives, a stance that was recently backed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"The use of chemical weapons is a barbarous act. It's pretty clear to me that the United Nations is unable to take action; NATO, not likely to take action," Boehner said after a meeting in the White House on Tuesday.
Other U.S. politicians, such as Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have spoken out against military intervention in Syria all together:
"I think the Islamic rebels winning is a bad idea for the Christians. All of a sudden we'll have another Islamic state where Christians are persecuted," Paul said in an interview on Sunday.
McCain has rejected the idea that leaving Assad in power would be a better option for the region, but Obama has said he is committed to seeking Congressional approval before he takes any action on Syria.