Rubio says it's "time to act" to help Syrian rebels

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. gestures during a speech at the Latino Coalition annual economic summit, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 in Washington, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., today advocated working with international partners to help the Syrian rebels struggling to take down the regime of President Bashar Assad.

"It is time to act now," Rubio told an audience at New York's Council on Foreign Relations. "I don't want to score political points on this issue, but I want to see it resolved because it benefits our national interest, and it is the right thing to do from a humanitarian point of view."

Just days ago, pro-Assad forces massacred more than 100 Syrian civilians in the city of Houla, prompting an international outcry. United Nations efforts to broker a cease-fire in the more than year-long conflict have so far proved futile.

The Florida senator said today the time had come for the U.S. and its allies to increase aid to the opposition forces in the country.

"The greatest thing that we can do now is help the rebels and the Free Syria Army and the political branch of the resistance to organize themselves, because one of the biggest problems we have is there is not a cohesive group there," Rubio said. "I think that in this endeavor we can work with our allies that are in the region."

Rubio, consistently mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney, has been raising his national profile in recent weeks. He has given several major speeches and traveled to the prison at Guantanamo Bay on a fact-finding mission. He is releasing an autobiography next month.

Asked by the moderator how "Vice President Rubio" sounded, the 41-year-old first term senator was quick to respond.

"It doesn't," he said.

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