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John McCain is pretty sure we can identify the "good guys" in the Syrian conflict after his secret visit to the country this week. Now, he wants us to arm rebel forces — but only the good ones.

That's all as the latest planned international talks on Syria are over before they started: as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad indicates his interest in running for re-election, opposition groups currently meeting in Istanbul appear headed towards a stalemate among themselves. 

As McCain told Anderson Cooper on CNN this evening: "We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people," he said. He downplayed the fears of extremists among rebel fighters in the country, saying, "They're flowing in all the time, these extremists. But they still do not make up a sizeable portion." 

While McCain might be in full intervention mode, the rest of the latest discourse on Syria is much more complicated, according to a New York Times story outlining the latest rotation in the spinning top of Syrian diplomacy. They explain that the Syrian Coalition hasn't yet committed to July talks organized by the U.N., in part because Assad and company have no plans of stepping down, and in fact have re-committed themselves to at least sticking out the rest of Assad's presidential term.

But the opposition is also dealing with some significant internal conflict, as well as a perilous tactical situation. Syrian forces, backed by Hezbollah, are reportedly getting closer to getting control of a strategically important smuggling route for rebel forces, who have asked the U.S. and other western countries to arm them. But the coalition is currently dominated by Islamist groups, McClatchy reports, and the coalition failed to add representatives from the more liberal wings of Syrian opposition this week, something the U.S. had asked them to do. Meanwhile, Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, will reportedly step down this summer. He is reportedly "exhausted" by his efforts, conducted outside of the country, to help unite opposition groups. 

Rand Paul, notably, had an op-ed on CNN this evening saying pretty much the opposite of everything John McCain said. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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