U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham on Friday urged Washington to help arm Syria’s rebels with weapons and create a safe zone inside the country for a transition government. They also called for a far tougher position against Iran over its suspected — and seemingly inexorable — drive toward acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

McCain blasted President Barack Obama, who defeated him in the 2008 presidential election, for recently setting the “red line” for Syria at use of chemical weapons.

“If you’re (Syrian President) Bashar Assad … maybe you interpret that to mean that you can do anything short of chemical weapons before the United States will intervene,” the Republican from Arizona told the Ambrosetti Forum, a gathering of political and business leaders on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.

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