WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, under pressure from some lawmakers for greater US backing for Syria's opposition, on Thursday asked the US Congress approve $500 million to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.

A White House statement said rebels would be vetted before being given assistance, in an effort to assuage concerns that some equipment provided to the Syrian opposition might ultimately fall into the hands of American enemies.

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Obama has been under strong pressure from some lawmakers to increase assistance to the Syrian opposition in that country's civil war.

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