U.S. Sen. John McCain spoke Thursday about U.S. intervention in Syria at two separate town halls in Phoenix and Tucson, facing tough crowds in both cities.
The Arizona Republican senator had originally planned to also speak about immigration reform, among other issues, but was unable to as many audience members insisted to challenge McCain's, and the federal government's, stand on Syria, The Associated Press reported.
At the morning meeting in Phoenix, McCain spoke in front of about 150 people, and emphasized that there would be no plans to send U.S. troops to the turbulent Middle Eastern country. He was interrupted from the beginning, and several attendees held signs protesting any action against Syria, AP said.
The afternoon town hall in Tucson wasn't any smoother. The Arizona Daily Star reported that two men were removed from the meeting for repeatedly disrupting the senator, and a veteran walked out while McCain answered his question because he disagreed with the answer.
Despite facing a hostile crowd, McCain still defended his stand, and continued to explain why the U.S. should intervene in the more than two-year-old civil war in Syria.
"I am not calling for American engagement or a single boot on the ground," McCain said, according to an article by the Star. "I am saying that, throughout our history, we have helped people who are struggling for freedom, and this is another case of that."
Earlier in the week, McCain expressed opposition for the latest Senate resolution to authorize military force in Syria, AP said. He went on to co-sponsor two amendments with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), and asked fellow senators to pass them in order to move forward with their vote.
The two gatherings Thursday came as President Barack Obama requested speedy congressional backing of a military strike in Syria to retaliate for a deadly chemical weapons attack.
The Obama administration blames Syrian President Bashar Assad for the chemical weapons attack that occurred on Aug. 21. Obama said more than 1,400 civilians died, including at least 400 children. Other casualty estimates are lower, however, and the Syrian government denied responsibility, contending rebels fighting to topple the government are to blame, AP reported.