McCain Spars with Fox Host over Syrian Rebels

by Andrew Johnson

Looking to quell concerns about helping the Syrian rebels, John McCain forcefully assured the hosts of Fox & Friends that General Salim Idris and the Free Syrian Army are not Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda.

“Of course they are Muslims, but they are moderates,” the Arizona senator said this morning. “I guarantee you that they are moderates — I know them, and I have been with them.”

McCain also rejected the idea that a video of a Syrian rebel yelling “Allahu Akbar” after shooting down a regime plane was a sign of radicalism. “I have a problem helping those people out if they’re screaming that,” said Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade after playing the video. McCain likened it to a Christian yelling the same phrase in English. “Would you have a problem with an American Christian saying, ‘Thank God, thank God’?” he asked.

In May, McCain met with Syrian rebel forces for a few hours in an unannounced visit. After his meetings, he said the rebels hoped the U.S. would be more involved in toppling the Assad regime.