"What concerns us most is that our friends and enemies will take the same lessons from this agreement – they see it as an act of provocative weakness on America's part," Arizona's John McCain and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham have said.

Without a UN Security Council Resolution under Chapter 7 authority, which threatens the use of force for non-compliance by the Assad regime, this framework agreement is meaningless, the Senators said in a statement.

"It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley, and the Obama Administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin," they said.

"What's worse, this agreement does nothing to resolve the real problem in Syria, which is the underlying conflict that has killed 110,000 people, driven millions from their homes, destabilized our friends and allies in the region, emboldened Iran and its terrorist proxies, and become a safe haven for thousands of Al-Qaeda affiliated extremists," McCain and Graham said.

They also argued that the deal will embolden Iran to push its nuclear programme. "We cannot imagine a worse signal to send to Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapon," they said.

The two Senators said that Assad will use the months and months afforded to him to delay and deceive the world using every trick in Saddam Hussein's playbook. "Is the message of this agreement that Assad is now our negotiating partner, and that he can go on slaughtering innocent civilians and destabilizing the Middle East using every tool of warfare, so long as he does not use chemical weapons? That is morally and strategically indefensible," they said.

"The only way this underlying conflict can be brought to a decent end is by significantly increasing our support to moderate opposition forces in Syria," the Senators said. The US and Russia yesterday agreed on a deal that calls for eliminating Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014 though President Barack Obama warned the military option was still on the table if diplomacy fails.


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