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Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham released the following statement Thursday after the U.S. government confirmed that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

The statement has not been altered in any way.

"We appreciate the President's finding that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions. We also agree with the President that this fact must affect U.S. policy toward Syria. The President's red line has been crossed. U.S. credibility is on the line. Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions.

"The conflict in Syria has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. The United Nations reported today that the death toll in Syria is approaching 93,000. Hezbollah is all in. Iran is all in. Iraqi militant groups are flowing into Syria to fight for Assad. Russia continues to provide military and diplomatic support. Assad is dramatically increasing his use of airpower against civilians and opposition forces in Syria. A report today stated that Assad's forces conducted at least 5,000 air-to-ground attacks last month alone.

"A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the President will take this urgently needed step. But providing arms alone is not sufficient. That alone is not enough to change the military balance of power on the ground against Assad. The President must rally an international coalition to take military actions to degrade Assad's ability to use airpower and ballistic missiles and to move and resupply his forces around the battlefield by air. This can be done, as we have said many times, using stand-off weapons such as cruise missiles.

"We cannot afford to delay any longer. Assad is on the offensive with every weapon in his arsenal and with the complete support of his foreign allies. We must take more decisive actions now to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria."

KTAR Newsroom,

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