US Senator McCain meets Turkish leaders
ANKARAU.S.’s Senior Republican Senator John McCain, who serves as a chairman for the Senate Armed Services Committee, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Feb. 20.
McCain, who has been an ardent promoter of U.S.-Turkey relations, was expected to discuss the Syrian crisis in Ankara.
His visit came after U.S. Senate on December 2016 passed a defense policy bill that allows supplying portable surface-to-air missiles to Syrian opposition groups.
An original text sponsored by McCain prohibited the supply of Man Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADs, to the Syrian opposition. But the U.S. Conference Committee, which prepared the final version of the bills, has amended the provision.
“If a determination is made during fiscal year 2017 to use funds available to the Department of Defense for that fiscal year to provide man-portable air defense systems [MANPADs] to the vetted Syrian opposition … such funds may not be used for that purpose until  the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State jointly submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the determination,” the final version of the bill stated.
McCain, a fervent advocate of helping the Syrian opposition, is among the harshest critics of President Donald Trump in the Republican Party.
In 2013, McCain, who supports more U.S. backing for Syrian rebels, crossed from Turkey into Syrian territory and met representatives from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). He urges an increased military action in Syria to stop the Bashar al-Assad regime, which has brutally killed thousands of civilians and led the outbreak of a global refugee crisis.