McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasing active in Syria…

The rebel troops are running low on ammunition and don’t have effective weapons to counter the regime’s use of airpower, the FSA and civilian leaders told McCain. They also said there’s a growing presence of Russian military advisors in Damascus as well as growing numbers of Iranian and Iraqi fighters as well…

“This was the start of a really important engagement between various forces in the U.S. government and people in the civilian and armed opposition who are working together to fight for a few Syria,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy, political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force.

“Senator McCain proved today you can very easily go and meet with these people,” she said. “He’s the first U.S. senator to step foot in free Syria and one of the first government officials to reach out to the FSA officials and that’s a huge step.”