US lawmakers' doubts ease on arming Syrian rebels

July 15, 2013 22:46

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has made progress in overcoming lawmakers' objections to its plans to arm Syrian rebels, but some details remain unresolved, a US official said on Monday.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who questioned the wisdom of arming the insurgents have tentatively agreed the administration can go ahead with its plans, but asked for updates as the covert effort proceeds, a senior administration official told Reuters.

There was no immediate comment from the committee. Nor was it clear whether any objections to the arms plan were still outstanding in the House of Representatives.

After secret briefings by senior officials late last month, members of both chambers' intelligence committees had advised the White House to delay sending weapons to the rebels battling Syrian President Bashar Assad until congressional concerns were addressed.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers fear the weapons could end up in the hands of Islamist militants, and would not be enough to tip the balance against the better-equipped Syrian government anyway.

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