McCain’s visit makes him the highest-ranking U.S. official to enter the country since its civil war began two years ago.
According to the Daily Beast, which first reported the visit, McCain met with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, and spent a few hours in the country after entering through Turkey. NOTICE THIS MURDEROUS SCUM BAG IS MAKING A MASONIC V WITH HIS HAND’S
McCain, a leading critic of the Obama administration’s policy towards Syria, has been calling for the U.S. to provide lethal aid to opposition forces seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The administration has resisted calls from lawmakers to arm the rebels over fears those weapons could fall into the hands of Islamist or anti-U.S. elements. Many Syrian rebel groups have been linked to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Last week, however, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill to arm the Syrian opposition, a bipartisan rebuke to the White House. Supporters of the measure say it is necessary to help end a conflict which has already claimed 80,000 lives, according to some estimates. The White House, though, has continued to focus on a diplomatic solution to ease Assad from power. Read more:
Under the black flag of al-Qaeda, the Syrian city ruled by gangs of extremists
The black flag of al-Qaeda flies high over Raqqa’s main square in front of the smart new governor’s palace, its former occupant last seen in their prison. Their fighters, clad also in black, patrol the streets, or set up positions behind sandbags.
The Islamists smashed up one of the two shops that sold alcohol. That much was pretty inevitable, the locals agreed. The other off-licence had already closed, as had the casino on the outskirts of town.
They brought in a radical cleric from Egypt to preach Friday prayers, and set up a sharia court in the city’s new sports centre with the support of other brigades. They had their fiefdom — an entire city to run only 60 miles from Nato’S border.
Then, one night, 10 men came for Nagham and Nour al-Rifaie, two teenage sisters from a well-known liberal family. They were at home with a family friend, Yusra Omran, 30, and their male cousin, 32.
Nagham, centre, with her father Hassan al-Rifaie and family friend Yusra Omran (David Rose for the Telegraph)
“All these guys came in with guns and wearing masks and with handcuffs,” said Nagham, 19, a civil engineering student. “They started searching everything, and shouting.
They were saying, ‘Put on more clothes than you are wearing, put on a headscarf.’ I just said I’m wearing clothes and I’m not putting on a headscarf’.”
The men took them to the sports centre. There the girls were charged with being alone with a man and interrogated.
“The guy with us was so mean,” Miss Rifaie said. “He was speaking in a horrible way, as if he was disgusted to be with us.”
In Raqqa, a once conservative but by all accounts not religious city, the triumph of al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, Jabhat al-Nusra, would seem to be complete
Mr Cameron’s officials now feel Jabhat al-Nusra has to be defeated by actively supporting the less militant rebels PULL THE OTHER ONE DAVE , including with arms. Many of Jabhat’s rival militias are being marginalised in cities like Raqqa across the north. On Tuesday, Britain will seek to have Jabhat al-Nusra added to an official list of sanctions at the United Nations.
Destroyed buildings near the Ahrar al-Sham Brigade Headquarters in the centre of Al Raqqa. The base was targeted by a regime airstrike last week (David Rose for the Telegraph)
In taking Raqqa two months ago al-Qaeda achieved its greatest coup in the war to date: it was the first provincial capital to fall outright to the rebels, and allowed Jabhat to assume a leadership role over a large swathe of north-eastern Syria, to the Iraqi border.
To many in it is a welcome development. “Jabhat are excellent for us,” said Abdullah Mohammed, a man from the nearby village of Mansoura. “They deal with us according to Islamic rules, so there are no problems. They are honest and they run everything pretty well.”
As a police officer, Mr Mohammed said he was in a position to know the difference between life under al-Qaeda and the Assad regime. He was in prison when the revolution broke out – he had stopped a car for jumping a red light and found to his cost it was being driven by a regime official.
He said he was in a cell with four members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority sect, and when the protests MORE