Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for U.S.-led airstrikes against government forces in Syria on Monday, the first such call from the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad's forces," McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon.
According to McCain, the US-led airstrikes would be done with the goal of establishing and defending safe havens in the north of Syria, which would provide opposition forces a base to plan further military operations.
The call from McCain comes just a day after Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney said he was "not anxious to employ military action" involving Syria, but said the country should "keep our options open."
McCain admitted that public sentiment in the country is against more foreign military involvement after two exhausting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but says that the US has a responsibility to step in to lead international opposition to the Assad regime.
"If Assad manages to cling to power -- or even if he manages to sustain his slaughter for months to come, with all of the human and geopolitical costs that entails -- it would be a strategic and moral defeat for the United States. We cannot, we must not, allow this to happen," McCain said.