Obama Requests $500 Million for 'Moderate' Syrian Rebels

ree Syrian Army fighters running at one of the front lines in the town of Sheikh Najjar, in Aleppo, Syria. ree Syrian Army fighters running at one of the front lines in the town of Sheikh Najjar, in Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo Media Center/AP

President Barack Obama wants to increase the U.S.'s involvement in the Syrian conflict by asking Congress to approve $500 million in funding to train and arm "moderate" Syrian rebel forces.  The proposed assistance will "help defend the Syrian people, stabilize areas under opposition control and facilitate the provision of essential services, counter terrorist threats, and promote conditions for a negotiated settlement," the administration said in its budget request to Congress.

Any potential recipient would be properly vetted first, the administration promised. The CIA vets any opposition group that receives training and small arms from the U.S. Some lawmakers fear any weapons provided to Syrian rebels will end up in the hands of terrorists. The newly equipped revolutionaries would work with Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq as part of a "Regional Stabilization Initiative." 

"This funding request would build on the administration's longstanding efforts to empower the moderate Syrian opposition, both civilian and armed, and will enable the Department of Defense to increase our support to vetted elements of the armed opposition," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council.

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