Beltway Confidential

John McCain: Syria will surrender chemical weapons if we take out Assad

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,President,Syria,John McCain

Syrian opposition leaders will surrender the nation's chemical weapons depots to the United States if President Obama and Congress authorize a military strike that leads to dictator Bashar al Assad's ouster, according to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"General Idris and the Syrian National Council are more than eager to do that; they'd like to get it off of their hands," McCain said on Morning Joe.

He offered that assessment while concurring with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who called for the congressional resolution to contain language requiring the Syrians to turn over the chemical weapons in exchange for U.S. assistance in toppling Assad.

McCain argued that the Syrian opposition groups are reliable, despite the presence of al Qaeda operatives in Syria, "who, by the way, are spending their time trying to impose sharia law rather than doing the fighting." He said that the Free Syrian Army "is not an extremist group" and is distinguishable from al Qaeda.

"The Syrian people . . . are a very cultured, modernist nation, and they are not going to stand for some kind of extremist governing them," McCain added.

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