The headlines out of Syria remain virtually the same as they have for almost a year now: protests, followed by security forces firing into the crowd. Perhaps we should be surprised that more members of the military haven’t defected rather than shoot their own people – for all we know, lots have – but the rest has become a dog bites man story, sadly enough.

While the UN General Assembly issued a formal condemnation and European leaders prepare more sanctions, in the US, the neocon government-in-exile wants to use this opportunity to start another war, at least by arming the Syrian rebels (though they probably couldn’t explain to you who the Syrian rebels are). In order to gin this up to a sufficient level, they’ve taken to associating the Syrian regime with Iran:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued Monday that Iran is “already supplying” military assistance to the Syrian regime, and said the United States must quickly resolve to aid the opposition forces in the country.

“The Iranians are already there. They’re already there. All reports confirm that. They’re already supplying arms and equipment to Bashar al-Assad, as are the Russians supplying arms,” said McCain on CBS News Monday.

“Right now it’s an asymmetric situation with Bashar al-Assad receiving equipment and actual physical help from Iran, Russia and the Syrian rebels not receiving equal assistance, or certainly not very much,” he added.

It’s true that Iranian warships are docked in a Syrian port, and it’s true that Iranian officials have rhetorically aided the regime by denouncing the McCain-led calls to arm the rebels. But nobody has reported the makeup of the cargo on those ships, and Iran has merely vowed retaliation (and said it would also come from Russia, who has ships in the same port) in the event of arming the rebels.

In other words, McCain is telling unverified half-truths, if not outright lying. And furthermore, he’s positioning Iran as the real source of unrest in Syria, as if the Iranians are repressing the Syrian people. I guess that gives the neocons more of a rationale to start a bombing campaign in Tehran.

The blowback from either arming Syria or engaging in military action there would be bad enough. But bootstrapping it to this tale of the Iranian menace in order to further war aims there is just completely irresponsible.