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Key Senators Say Drones Should Document Assad Regime Attacks on Civilians

As diplomats attend a critical meeting in Tunisia to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down in the wake of attacks by his regime forces on his own people, a key group of U.S. senators suggested Friday that unmanned drones be used to document the reported atrocities.

"It has been reported that unmanned aerial vehicles are now being flown over Syria to monitor sites containing weapons of mass destruction and related materials. This is appropriate, but unmanned aerial vehicles should also be tasked to document attacks on Syrian civilians by Assad's forces and to enable the Syrian opposition to defend against them," said Sens.  John McCain, R-Ariz., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-SC.  "We should rule out no option that could help save lives."

The trio, senior members of the Armed Services Committee, has been for some time calling for the U.S. to arm the opposition in war-torn Syria, a position that puts them at odds with the Obama Administration but one that received the hearty backing of the Saudi Foreign Minister in Tunis on Friday, as he attended the "Friends of Syria" gathering along with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and scores of other officials representing 60 countries and international organizations.  

"I think it's an excellent idea," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters. 

The senior U.S. lawmakers have, to date, refrained from outright criticism of the Obama Administration, but on Friday, they not only called for "vigorous American leadership," but warned, "We remain deeply concerned that our international diplomacy risks becoming divorced from the reality on the ground in Syria."  

 

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