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Senators ask for strategy in Syria

Thursday - 10/31/2013, 3:30pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Obama administration officials have been defending U.S. efforts in Syria today, against blistering criticism from Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Republicans charge that the administration has goals, but no strategy that would bring a political resolution to end the bloody conflict.

The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, told the panel that the U.S. is proud of the humanitarian and other assistance it has given to the Syrian opposition trying to topple the government of Bashar Assad. He acknowledged that the opposition was "deeply disappointed" when the U.S. didn't take military action against the government. But Ford said the U.S. is trying to arrange a conference in Geneva next month to set up a transitional government and end the bloodshed.

Ford told the panel that he doesn't think Assad can win militarily, and that he only has the advantage in a few areas.

Republican Sen. John McCain criticized Ford for calling the Syria conflict a civil war. McCain said it's actually a "regional conflict" that has spread to Iraq and is destabilizing Jordan. And he said Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has 5,000 troops in Syria. McCain also said Assad's killing of civilians continues unchecked.

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