In a speech to the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C, Paul scolded Senators on both sides of the aisle for considering authorizing arms support to the Syrian opposition. Paul argued that many many of the rebels who are clashing with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad “are al quaeda or affiliates.”
“The Senate is attempting to arm the rebel forces in Syria, many of whom are al quaeda or affiliates. They do so out of a miguided attempt to stop the violence in Syria,” Paul said. “Instead their actions will bring more violence and more persecution of Christians, who have long been protected in Syria.”
Paul’s speech came just hours after the UN released a report showing that 93,000 Syrians have died in a sectarian war that has lasted for over two years. The real death toll is said by experts to be even higher.
Paul, however, urged fellow lawmakers and the White House to cut off funding to the Syrian rebels, calling them “haters of Christianity.”
“It is clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East and I believe that must end,” he said.
When asked about Paul’s comments today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded by saying that the administration is not considering reducing funding or other non-lethal assistance to rebel forces.
As of last week, the U.S. has given nearly $514 million in humanitarian assistance to those inside Syria who are fighting the regime, and to refugees who have been forced to flee the country. According to USAID, the assistance includes “food aid, medical supplies, emergency and basic health care, shelter materials, clean water, hygiene education and supplies, and other relief supplies—including blankets and heaters.”
Paul’s comments on Syria contrasted with those of a man he may someday run against in a Republican presidential primary, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.). Rubio, who spoke after Paul, argued in support of the U.S. intervening in Syria.
“There is nothing to replace [the U.S.],” he told the audience.