US senator McCain says Syria is fueling sectarian conflict in region

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will make no effort to end the country’s civil war as long as he is winning on the battle field, said US senator John Mcain in a speech on Thursday.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is “delusional,” he added, in the foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“The longer we wait to take action, the more action we will have to take,” the Arizona Republican said, while noting that there are no easy options to ending Syria’s civil war, which has killed 80,000 according to UN figures.

McCain added that Syria’s civil war is fueling sectarian conflict across the region, a dangerous situation that Iran is exploiting, he stated.

“A sectarian battle line is being drawn through the heart of the region — with Sunni extremists, many allied with Al- Qaeda, dominant on one side, and Iranian-backed proxy forces dominant on the other.

“The entire Middle East is now up for grabs, and our enemies are fully committed to winning … The only power that is not fully committed in this struggle is us.”

The speech comes on the heels of McCain’s visit to visited Yemen, Jordan and Turkey last week. He also visited Syria, becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit the country since the start of the war in March 2011.

In Syria he met with Free Syrian Army commanders.

He said they all told him: “Assad has turned the tide of battle on the ground. His foreign allies have all doubled down on him. Iran is all in. Russia is all in. Shiite militants are flowing into the fight from Iraq. And Hezbollah fighters have invaded Syria by the thousands.”

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