(Ismail Zetouny / Reuters )
Sen. John McCain, one of the most ardent supporters in Washington of the Libyan resistance, released a statement on the reported death of Col.Moammar Kadafi, calling for the United States to “deepen” its support for the strife-torn nation.
Revolutionary forces stormed the Mediterranean coastal city of Surt on Thursday, with reports saying that Kadafi had been captured and wounded in the fighting. Some of the reports said he had died.
McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, traveled to Benghazi, a rebel stronghold, in the midst of the fighting in April. Breaking with several congressional conservatives, McCain called then for a more active U.S. and allied role in the civil war. He returned to the country in September after Kadafi's regime fell.
PHOTOS: Moammar Kadafi | 1942 - 2011
His statement Thursday came even as U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said they were still trying to confirm Kadafi’s death.
“The death of Moammar Kadafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution,” McCain said Thursday. “While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country. Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans. The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country.”
McCain's statement made no mention of President Obama or his administration's role in supporting the rebels.
However, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who accompanied McCain to Libya last month, released a statement crediting the administration.
"Today marks the end of Kadafi's reign and a new opportunity for freedom, prosperity and a voice in the global community for Libyans," he said. "The administration, especially Secretary Clinton, deserves our congratulations."
The president involved the U.S. in the fighting in Libya without congressional approval.
In June, the Republican-controlled House passed a resolution criticizing the Obama administration’s Libya policy, saying that the national security interests at stake hadn’t been adequately explained by the White House. But the House rejected a stronger measure calling for Obama to recall U.S. forces from the region.