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US Plan to Arm Syria Rebels Gets a Boost

But Pentagon cites continuing concerns
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2013 2:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last month, the White House said it planned to arm Syrian rebels—but members of Congress haven't been thrilled with the idea. Now, however, Capitol Hill seems to be coming around, Reuters reports. Despite "strong reservations ... We got a consensus that we could move forward with the administration's plans," says House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers. Lawmakers had feared weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

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Rebel backers hope deliveries could begin next month, though UN Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahim remains concerned. "Arms do not make peace," he says. Concerns remain in the Pentagon, too, the New York Times reports. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells lawmakers the US could aid the opposition, conduct missile strikes, nab chemical weapons, and set up a no-fly zone. But he warns that the effort could cost billions, and "once we take action ... deeper involvement is hard to avoid." Any use of force "is no less than an act of war," and "we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control." (Read more Syria stories.)

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