US Senate Votes 15-3 for Arming Syrian Opposition
A key US Senate panel pushed through legislation on Tuesday when it voted that the administration supply weapons to insurgents in Syria.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 for legislation that would send arms to "vetted" moderate members of the Syrian opposition, the first time U.S. lawmakers have approved such military action in the two-year-old civil war.
It was not yet clear when or whether the full Senate will vote on the measure on grounds that risks are too high that radical extremist terrorists among those fighting for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad would get their hands on American military hardware, Washington Times mentioned.
A Senate Committee on Foreign Relations debated the legislation that would give the US administration power to "provide defense articles, defense services and military training" to fighters who "share common values and interests with the United States."
Introduced by committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez, the bill offers a range of standards to be met by rebels, including that all recipients of American arms be "committed to rejecting terrorism and extremist ideologies."
"You will be funding today the allies of al-Qaeda," Senator Rand Paul, a critic of US interventionist policies, stated.
The White House already has authorized a limited degree of secret training for select groups of militants; however Obama consistently rejected calls to directly arm those fighting to overthrow Assad.
"I don't think we know who we're arming. And the truth is, it changes every day. Sometimes fighters are fighting each other," Senator Tom Udall said.
"I'm not sure that the people we help here are going to be particularly grateful once the deed is done," Republican Senator James Risch voiced.
Source: News Agencies, edited by moqawama.org