PHOENIX -- American lives should not be risked in Syria but the United States should involve itself in the embattled country, Sen. John McCain said.
"We need to not have a single American boot on the ground or a single American life in jeopardy," he told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday.
McCain said he had heard media reports that the United States would launch a cruise missile attack on Thursday that would last at least three days, but he is worried that such a strike may not be enough.
"But the president, I'm afraid, is only going to launch some cruise missiles, strike some targets and basically call it a day," he said. "That may be better than nothing, but if it doesn't change Bashar Assad's behavior, he can say 'Look, I stood up to the Americans," so it could be counterproductive."
When it comes to American involvement, McCain said the most important thing that happens is to turn the tides of the fight, something a few strikes may not accomplish.
"What I worry about is retaliation and we really don't change the momentum on the ground," he said, adding that the civil war is destabilizing the entire region and creating opportunities for those who want to attack America.
Some have called for the United States to keep its nose out of Syria's business, but McCain said President Barack Obama can't go back on what he has said.
"Part of the reason is the president of the United States, a year ago, said that if Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, that would be a red line," he said. "Bashar Assad, by the way, has already used chemical weapons, but now he used it to slaughter about 1,000 people so that has really forced the administration to take action."
McCain called for the United States to take out Assad's air force -- estimated to be 50 planes flying from six airfields -- and supply weapons to the rebels, who are fighting against troops armed with Russian and Iranian arms and are backed by Hezbollah and Lebanon.
"It's an unfair fight right now," he said.
McCain said that over 100,000 have been killed in Syria and at least one million people are now refugees.