Airstrikes show possible hole in Syria defense, senators say

2013-05-06T00:00:00Z Airstrikes show possible hole in Syria defense, senators sayBrian Bennett Tribune Washington Bureau Arizona Daily Star

WASHINGTON - Recent Israeli strikes inside Syria may have exposed weaknesses in the regime's air defenses and could embolden the U.S. and its allies to take more steps to aid rebels fighting the regime there, lawmakers said Sunday.

"The Russian-supplied air-defense systems are not as good as said," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Leahy, who heads the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said the Israeli defense forces were using U.S.-made F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to launch the missiles against Syrian targets.

"Keep in mind the Israelis are using weapons supplied by us," Leahy said. "They have enormous prowess with those weapons."

Government-controlled media in Syria reported that Israel launched a strike near Damascus early Sunday, apparently marking the third such attack this year.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Israeli airstrikes should "put more pressure" on the White House to aid forces fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. McCain said the U.S. should not send in troops but called for "game-changing action" by the U.S. rather than incremental steps.

McCain's advice: "No American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone and protect it, and supply weapons to the right people in Syria who are fighting for obviously the things we believe in."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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