Congress Blocks US Arms for Syrian Rebels: Report

Sources say intelligence committees are freezing funding to send weapons
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2013 10:30 AM CDT
Congress Blocks US Arms for Syrian Rebels: Report
A Syrian rebel firing his weapon in Damascus.   (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)

Both House and Senate intelligence committees have voted to stop sending military aid to Syrian rebels by freezing the funding intended to ship arms, sources say. According to the Hill, the decision was made last month, amid fears that the weapons would end up in the hands of Islamist militants. The Senate committee "voted to allow them to make some movement on this, but it’s restricted," says one insider. "It was a very restrictive amount." Syrian rebels do not appear to have received any new US arms, Reuters adds, and are confused by the hold-up.

"If we are going to arm, we have to make sure we have control of what arms are out there and how people are trained to use those arms so they don’t fall into the hands of our enemy al-Qaeda," says Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking member of the House committee, per the Hill. He would not confirm the vote, but did say the committee had funding oversight for the Syrian aid. Though as Reuters notes, that "funding oversight" is more of a formality—the administration doesn't typically move ahead with this kind of program if one or both committees objects, but it could if it wanted to. (Read more Syria stories.)

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