The top U.S. diplomat on Syria defended Thursday the Obama administration’s aid to moderate Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad, as senators criticized the assistance as an embarrassment that has made the United States look weak.
Testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said the administration is following a two-track strategy in Syria — bolstering rebel forces and seeking a political solution to end the 2½-year-old conflict via an international conference next month in Geneva.
Earlier Thursday, trucks arrived at Syria’s Supreme Military Council — months after the vehicles had been scheduled to be delivered to the rebels, Mr. Ford told the committee.
“I think our help to the opposition has been an embarrassment,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican. “For you to [say] these trucks are being delivered today is laughable.”
Lawmakers noted that money and weapons are streaming into Syria from Gulf states to aid rebel and extremist groups, as Russia and Iran have increased their support for the Assad regime.
“As shiploads of weapons come into the Russian port, as planeload after planeload lands and providing weapons … And we’re proud of the fact that we gave them trucks?” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. “We are seeing an endless slaughter. And this is a shameful chapter in American history.”