(CNN) – White House officials were notified that Sen. John McCain was planning to visit with rebels in Syria ahead of his trip to the war-torn nation, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
"We were aware that Sen. McCain was going to make this trip," Carney said, referring other questions about the administration's role in the visit to the State Department. He added the White House was looking forward to "speaking with Sen. McCain upon his return to learn more."
McCain, who is the first U.S. senator to visit Syria since civil war broke out two years ago, slipped into the country Monday through Turkey to meet with leaders of the Free Syrian Army. He remained in the country for several hours.
McCain is the leading voice in Congress for a greater U.S. role in ending Syria's civil war, which has been waged for more than two years. He has suggested establishing "safe zones" for Syria's rebels and taking out the regime's air assets, along with providing lethal weapons to Syria's opposition.
Republicans and Democrats alike have called on President Barack Obama to ramp up support for Syrian rebels, who now receive nonlethal aid like food and medicine from the United States. In early April that aid was stepped up to include equipment such as body armor, night vision goggles and other military equipment that is considered defensive in nature.
Carney did not announce any new administration positions with regard to Syria on Tuesday.