Amid claims from US sources that Israel struck a facility storing Russian missiles in northern Syria last week, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) on Tuesday renewed their calls for American action against the Assad regime.
Speaking to The Daily Beast after a Senate Armed Services Committee briefing on the alleged Israeli strike near the coastal city of Latakia, Graham urged American intervention in the more than two-year civil war to prevent the further spread of hostilities throughout the Middle East.
“Here’s what the Israeli strikes show us. If we don’t do something about Syria, it’s going to spread quickly,” the senator from South Carolina said. “Six more months from now, if nothing changes, that’s going to require Israel to do more not less and every time Israel has to take military action in the Middle East, that’s not a good thing.”
According to reports in CNN and The New York Times, Israeli warplanes targeted a Syrian naval base in Latakia earlier this month and destroyed a warehouse full of Russian-made anti-ship missiles that may have been bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
McCain noted that three reported Israeli strikes on Syrian targets earlier this year were not met with resistance from the Assad regime, which he claimed demonstrated the feasibility of an American air campaign against the Syrian military. The Daily Beast reported that McCain said the Pentagon is still hyping up the Syrian air defense capabilities because of Washington’s desire to not intervene in the conflict.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the committee chairman, remarked to The Times of Israel following the briefing that his position “continues to be that the US (with an international coalition) should do more to build the military pressure to get the [Assad] regime to the negotiating table,” but did not elaborate as to whether that involved an air campaign.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday, after several stray mortar shells fired from Syria exploded in the Golan Heights, that Israel would not hesitate to respond to fire with fire.
“Once attacks from Syria endanger us or violate our sovereignty — we will identify the source of fire and destroy it,” Ya’alon said. “We have set up red lines to protect our interests.”
Regarding the reports of Israel striking Latakia, Ya’alon said Israel was used to being blamed for “all sorts of things that happen there.”