According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, Senator John McCain made a surprise visit to northern Syria last week to meet with the coalition forces and discuss the ongoing campaign in the fight against the Islamic State. U.S. officials confirmed that McCain, who is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke with American military officials and Kurdish forces who are working to push ISIS out of Raqqa, the Syrian city that the Islamic terror group has declared their de facto capital.
“[McCain] traveled to northern Syria last week to visit U.S. forces deployed there and to discuss the counter-ISIL campaign and ongoing operations to retake Raqqa,” Senator McCain’s office confirmed in a statement.
U.S. officials told the WSJ that the Arizona Senator traveled to Kobani, a town in Syria near the Turkish border, as President Donald Trump is debating stepping up the fight against ISIS. U.S. military officials have stated that they are on track to hand over a new plan to destroy ISIS before the end of the month.
Kobani has been controlled by Kurdish forces since 2012. Kurdish forces, or the Peshmerga, have launched an anti-ISIS campaign in the region to try to relieve their area of the Islamic militants. U.S. officials have said that successfully completing a campaign to retake Raqqa from ISIS would be nearly impossible without working alongside the Kurdish forces.
The Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told reporters Wednesday that putting more troops in Syria to advance the campaign against ISIS is a possibility.
“It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves,” Votel said, as quoted by the New York Times. “That’s an option.”
McCain also took a trip to Syria in 2013, though his intention then was to meet with Arab rebels who were fighting against the country’s dictator Bashar al-Assad.