July 25, 2013 | Quote

Deal Done for U.S. to Ship Arms to Syria Rebels

A deal reached in Congress to allow the United States to ship arms to Syrian rebels could spur more support from other nations, blunting the military gains of dictator Bashar Assad and preventing him from crushing the rebel movement.

Syrian rebels say the decision by U.S. lawmakers to go along with President Obama's plan announced weeks ago to arm their factions will give them an edge.

“American military support may not be sufficient in and of itself, but American leadership in close coordination with our allies … will create a significant shift on the ground,” said Mazen Asbahi, president of the Syrian Support Group, a U.S.-based group of Syrians who are aiding the rebels.

“The aid is intended to help the opposition resist Assad and eventually prevail,” Carney said.

But Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the decision to arm the rebels is hampered by the administration's lack of a clear reason for sending the weapons.

“Are we trying to help the rebels fight the jihadis, defeat the regime or cement the stalemate?” Badran said.

The White House says it wants Assad to enter negotiations for his own departure, but “why would Assad negotiate when you're declaring you have no intention of helping the rebels win?” Badran said.

The White House has said it intends to funnel arms to the Free Syrian Army, a collection of Syrian Army defectors and former officers who have been battling Assad's forces for more than two years. The aid will be overseen by the Supreme Military Council of the Syrian Revolution, a coalition of FSA commanders.

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Issues:

Syria