A pair of the most hawkish Republican Senators are backing the White House’s decision to arm Syrian Kurds, but they warn an “effective strategy” for defeating Islamic militants is not in place.
“We support the administration’s decision to resupply Kurdish forces in Kobani with arms, ammunition and other supplies,” Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said in a joint statement.
The lawmakers called the move a “good step” to prevent Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces from seizing the predominantly Kurdish town situated seven miles from the border with Turkey.
The U.S. announced on Sunday that it dropped arms and other supplies to Kurds trying to defend the city from the terror group.
McCain and Graham qualified their praise, saying “this tactical adjustment should not be confused for an effective strategy, which is still lacking.”
They pointed out that ISIS forces are “advancing” in Anbar province, Iraq, as well as near the capital city of Baghdad.
“We continue to urge the administration to quickly adopt a comprehensive strategy and avoid the perils of gradual escalation — in Kobani and in the broader fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the pair said. “This will only lead to an unnecessary loss of life and reduce our chances of success, as we have learned in other conflicts.”
They repeated their calls for deploying U.S. special forces and military advisers on the ground to direct the air campaign, providing additional assistance to moderate Syrian forces and establishing no-fly zones in Syria.
“Rather than preemptively ruling out steps such as these for policy reasons, the president should take them now as appropriate to change the momentum on the ground against both ISIS and the Assad regime and to create conditions for a political transition and an end of the conflict in Syria,” they argued. “That is ultimately what it will take to destroy ISIS and keep America safe, and we cannot afford to delay any longer.”