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John McCain challenges President Obama's decision to avoid training Syrian opposition

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U.S. Sen. John McCain (AP photo)

Sen. John McCain is questioning President Obama's decision not to increase America's role in ending the deadly civil war in Syria by training members of the Syrian opposition.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, McCain asked outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey whether they backed a proposal made last year by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former CIA Director David Petraeus to send U.S. forces to train the opposition to President Bashar Assad.

At the hearing, Panetta and Dempsey told McCain they supported Clinton's idea.

"What this means is that the President overruled the senior leaders of his own national security team, who were in unanimous agreement that America needs to take greater action to change the military balance of power in Syria," McCain said in a statement later.

McCain said he is urging Obama to heed the advice, calling the crisis in Syria "a graphic failure of American leadership."

McCain added that "it's not too late," for the United States to get involved.