Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Syrian rebels "do not understand why the U.S. won't help them" during an appearance Wednesday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
The senator, a supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria, slipped silently into the country to meet with opposition leaders on Monday. A State Department official confirmed that the department was aware of the trip, and in the interview with Cooper, McCain repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the State Department, as well as to the rebel groups, for providing his security.
When Cooper asked McCain how weapons would be prevented from falling into the hands of extremists, the senator said extremist fighters compose a small fraction of Syria's rebel forces: 7,000 pro-al Qaeda fighters from the al-Nusra front among some 100,000 insurgents.
"Every single day, more and more extremists flow in … but they still do not make up a sizable portion," McCain told Cooper. "We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people."