Obama seeks US$500 mil. to arm select Syrian rebels
By Julie Pace, AP
June 28, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
WASHINGTON--U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to bolster U.S. efforts to train and arm select members of the Syrian opposition, a move that comes amid increased U.S. concern that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are becoming an intertwined fight against the same Sunni extremist group.
Obama sent Congress a US$500 million request Thursday for a Pentagon-run program that would significantly expand previous covert efforts to arm rebels fighting both the Sunni extremists and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. If approved by lawmakers, the program would in effect open a second front in the fight against militants spilling over Syria's border and threatening to overwhelm neighboring Iraq.
The Syria program is part of a broader, US$65.8 billion overseas operations request that the administration sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday. The package includes US$1 billion to help stabilize nations bordering Syria that are struggling with the effects of the civil war. It also formalizes a request for a previously announced $1 billion to strengthen the U.S. military presence in Central and Eastern Europe amid Russia's threatening moves in Ukraine.