Arming Syrian rebels is a bad idea, lawmakers warn

A tank was destroyed last week after clashes between authorities and rebeles in Rastan area in Syria's Homs province. A tank was destroyed last week after clashes between authorities and rebeles in Rastan area in Syria's Homs province. AP photo

House intelligence leaders said on Sunday that arming Syrian rebels remains unwise because they are unknown actors and Syria’s regime continues to be backed by Iran and Russia.

“I think we both agree that’s probably a bad idea,” said Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union.

Appearing with Ranking Member C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., he argued for greater international diplomatic pressure rather than “sending in arms and hoping for the best.”

“We think that there are other things that we can do that we haven’t quite engaged in yet, and that probably need to happen,” Rogers said, including engaging the Arab League so the United States could take a “support role.”

Rogers said President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime appears unmoved by Washington’s pleading, but cautioned against weapons falling into the hands of “bad actors there.”

“We don’t really see Assad’s inner-circle crumbling,” Rogers said. “They believe that they’re winning.”

He added: “Iran and Russia both have stepped up to the plate and can’t afford, in their minds, can’t afford to lose Syria as their toehold.”

Said Ruppersberger: “The United States can’t be sheriff for the whole world.”

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