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US Senator John McCain slipped into Syria from Turkey and met with Western-backed rebels’ leaders in the rebel-held north of the country, media reports said late Monday.
McCain’s visit was reportedly confirmed by one of his spokesmen in Washington who declined to give further details as some news websites published photos of the senator flanked by Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in front of an office-like guest house whose facade was decorated with the rebels’ flags and a banner which reads ” welcome to new Syria.”
The head of the rebels FSA, Salem Idris, reportedly said that they asked the official for US strikes against Syrian troops and their Lebanese Hezbollah whose fighters are alleged to be fighting alongside the Syrian army in the central city of al-Qussair.
The 76-year-old senator is an outspoken critic of the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is also known of being a staunch critic of Washington’s ostensible policy of non-intervention in the Syrian crisis.
The senator has further urged the Obama administration to militarily intervene in Syria.
His visit came as US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov were making preparations in Paris for the upcoming Geneva Conference on the Syrian issue slated for mid-June, and as the European Union failed again to lift an arm embargo on the Syrian opposition due to lack of consensus.
About 80,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, according to UN figures, and a further 1.5 million have become refugees.
Israel launched two attacks against Syrian military facilities two weeks ago, claiming it fears that advanced weaponry which threatens Israeli cities could fall in the hands of radical troops.