McCain: U.S. must lead in Syria

(CBS News) On "Face the Nation," Sen. John McCain said the United States should "lead" in the conflict against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad because the rebels are engaged in an uneven matchup.

"We, along with other countries, and we lead for a change, lead. Not lead from behind but lead from in front. They're waiting for American leadership," said McCain, R-Ariz., referring to a common critique of the president by Republicans who say the president has not taken a leadership role in international affairs.

McCain, who is ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told host Bob Schieffer that current support by the U.S. is not adequate.

"We have announced that we are now providing them with non-lethal equipment. That doesn't do very well against tanks and artillery," he said. "We need to get a sanctuary for the Free Syrian Army. We need to get them supplies; we need to get them weapons."

"It's not a fair fight. It's not a fair fight." McCain said.

However, McCain drew the line at directly involving the U.S. military. "No boots on the ground, no unilateral action," he said. "But for the United States to sit by and watch this wanton massacre is a betrayal of everything we stand for and believe in."

McCain discussed his trip to the Syrian border where he met with the Free Syrian Army leadership and the Syrian National Council.

"In the refugee camps we heard the stories of the murder, of the torture, of the rape that's going on," McCain said.

The senator added: "Again, Russia and china continue to veto any significant effort that comes from the United Nations. How many times are we going to push that reset button? It's time for the United States to lead."

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.