Senators urge cautious action on Syrian conflict

April 28, 2013 at 3:38 PM

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- A trio of U.S. senators said the Obama administration must do more to identify and assist friendly elements of the anti-Assad rebel forces fighting in Syria.

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the United States should do what it can to prevent Syria from becoming a fractured, failed state that is home to potential terrorists.

"There's nothing you can do in Syria without risk, but the greatest risk is a failed state with chemical weapons falling in the hands of radical Islamists and they're pouring into Syria," Graham said. "The longer this goes, the more likely you have a failed state and all hell's going to break loose in the region."

Another Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, agreed, saying the Obama administration, in partnership with allies, should come to a conclusion about what to do because "the world is watching."

"We've got 70,000 dead people in that part of the world as a result of Bashar al-Assad," Chambliss said. "We as America have never let something like that happen before. We've taken action."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., defended the Obama administration's handling of the Syrian conflict and pointed to Russia, one of Syria's last remaining allies, as a nation better positioned to put an end to the conflict.

"I think the president, along with our military leadership, is working very hard right now to figure out the best way to keep Syria from becoming the fragmented state that could be a home and haven for terrorists," McCaskill said. "Russia's very important here. ... Russia, we've got to bring them around. Assad is leaning on Russia."

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