In Kabul, two senior members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee urged international cooperation to help supply the anti-Assad rebels with weapons and other aid. Both Arizona Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, however, stopped short of endorsing direct U.S. military involvement.
“The United States doesn’t have to directly ship weapons to the opposition, but there are a whole lot of things that can be done” through groups such as the Arab League, McCain told reporters on Sunday.
Graham said it was “shameful” for the U.S. not to have a prominent role to help the rebel forces, saying that breaking Syria’s ties to Iran “could be as beneficial to our efforts to contain a nuclear armed Iran as sanctions.”
“If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place,” he said.
The U.N. last gave a death toll for the conflict in January, saying 5,400 had been killed in 2011 alone. But hundreds more have been killed since, according to activist groups. The group Local Coordination Committees says more than 7,300 have been killed since March of last year. There is no way to independently verify the numbers, however, as Syria bans almost all foreign journalists and human rights organizations.
The Observatory said that troops conducted raids Monday in the southern village of Harrah where at least nine people were detained.
In the western Hama province, troops backed by armored personnel carriers and military buses stormed several villages, conducting raids and arrests. A 32-year-old man was killed by gunfire from a security checkpoint in the area, activists said.
On Sunday, activists said at least 18 people were killed in Syria, including a senior state prosecutor and a judge who were shot dead by gunmen in the restive northwestern province of Idlib.