Airstrikes may show weakness in defense
BY BRIAN BENNETT, Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Recent Israeli strikes inside Syria may have exposed weaknesses in the regime's air defenses and could embolden the U.S. and its allies to take more steps to aid rebels fighting the regime there, lawmakers said Sunday.
"The Russian-supplied air defense systems are not as good as said," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Leahy, who heads the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said the Israeli defense forces were using U.S.-made F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to strike against Syrian targets.
"Keep in mind the Israelis are using weapons supplied by us," Leahy said. "They have enormous prowess with those weapons."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Israeli airstrikes should "put more pressure" on the White House to aid forces fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. McCain said the U.S. should not send in troops but called for "game-changing action" by the U.S. rather than incremental steps.
McCain's advice: "No American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone and protect it, and supply weapons to the right people in Syria who are fighting for obviously the things we believe in."
U.S. officials said Israeli war planes last week targeted shipments of antiaircraft missiles in Syria that Israel believed were being sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest wouldn't comment on the reported Israeli strikes in Syria.