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Thu Jun 6, 2013 9:45PM
US Senator John McCain speaks at the Brookings Institution on June 6, 2013.

US Senator John McCain speaks at the Brookings Institution on June 6, 2013.

Influential American Senator John McCain says if the US does not expand its engagement in Syria by sending missiles to militants, it would see the Middle East slide into “extremism.” McCain told the Brookings Institution think-tank on Thursday that "the Syrian state is disintegrating in much of the country, leaving vast ungoverned spaces that are being filled by extremists, many aligned with Al-Qaeda." Since meeting militant commanders in Syria more than a week ago, it is the second time McCain calls for arming the anti-Syria groups. Earlier in the week, the senator said the government of President Bashar al-Assad has “the upper hand” in Syria now and the failure to send weapons to the militants would make any future peace talks with Damascus tough. "We could use our stand-off weapons, such as cruise missiles, to target Assad's aircraft and ballistic missile launchers on the ground," McCain said. "We could enable a provisional government to establish itself in a safe zone in Syria that we could help to protect with Patriot missiles. And we could organize a full-scale operation to train and equip Syrian opposition forces." McCain’s call came on the same day that Syrian forces liberated the Quneitra Crossing, which is situated between Syria and the Golan Heights, after heavy clashes with anti-government gunmen. This came after the Syrian Army recaptured the strategic town of Qusayr on Wednesday following three weeks of fighting with the militants. MA/MHB
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