Obama asks Congress $500 million for military training and equipment for Syrian opposition fighters
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Defence & Security News - United States
|Saturday, June 28, 2014 10:23 AM|
|Obama asks Congress $500 million for military training and equipment for Syrian opposition fighters.|
Obama administration asked Congress on Thursday, June 26, 2014, to authorize $500 million in direct U.S. military training and equipment for Syrian opposition fighters, a move that could significantly escalate U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war.
Syrian Rebel fighters carry their weapons as they run past damaged buildings to avoid snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Mleha suburb of Damascus May 26, 2014.
Money for the assistance, which would expand a CIA covert training program, is included in a $65.8 billion request for the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO.
The administration has said repeatedly in recent weeks that it was preparing additional assistance to vetted “moderate” opposition forces fighting both the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who have now spread their area of control across the Syrian border into Iraq.
If Congress approves the funding, it would mark the first direct U.S. military participation in the Syrian conflict. The training would probably take place in neighboring Jordan, where the CIA is currently training Syrian opposition forces, and possibly in Turkey.
“While we continue to believe that there is no military solution to this crisis and that the United States should not put American troops into combat in Syria, this request marks another step toward helping the Syrian people defend themselves against [Assad] regime attacks, push back against the growing number of extremists ... who find safe-haven in the chaos, and take their future into their own hands by enhancing security and stability at local levels,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.