Senator Angus King (I-Maine), member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, has said Syria presents one of the most immediate foreign policy challenges for Washington and that the U.S. has “a huge role to play” in the unrest.
Sen. King along with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, returned from a fact fining trip to Turkey and Jordan which began on Sunday and was aimed at assessing the situation in neighboring Syria.
In an interview with Press Herald on Friday, Sen. King said he favored sending weapons to foreign-backed militant groups fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad but, he added that “there is no expectation of American troops on the ground in Syria.”
While on their trip to the Middle East, the two senators met with militant leaders including Salim Idriss, the leader of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), and visited refugee camps along the Syrian border.
The United States has begun shipping weapons to Jordan to arm the militants in Syria. The weapons are being moved to Jordan from a network of warehouses, according to Wall Street Journal.
The weaponry includes different types of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, small arms and ammunition.
This is while a number of hawkish U.S. senators insist that the United States should do more than simply arming the militants in Syria.
In a letter last month, Sen. Levin, Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey called on President Barack Obama to take “more decisive military actions” against Syria.
“The conflict in Syria is deteriorating so dramatically that providing arms to the opposition alone is unlikely to shift the military balance of power against Assad,” the senators wrote.
They said the U.S. should degrade the Syrian government’s ability to use air power and ballistic missiles.
Meanwhile, a series of recent opinion polls have shown that the majority of American citizens are opposed to any U.S. involvement in Syrian unrest.
Following President Obama’s decision to send weapons to the militant groups, 70 percent of Americans, surveyed by the Pew Research Center between June 12 and 16, said they were against such aggressive plan.