WASHINGTON - US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are lobbying members of Congress to try to break an impasse over White House plans to send arms to Syrian rebels, US officials said on Tuesday.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers fear the weapons will end up in the hands of Islamist militants, and will not be enough to tip the balance against Syrian President Bashar Assad anyway.
Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees have advised the White House to delay sending weapons to the anti-Assad insurgents, Reuters reported on Monday. The committees signaled they wanted to put the brakes on funding for the operation after secret briefings by senior officials.
No US arms have reached the rebels, who are struggling to hold back an offensive by the better-equipped Syrian government.
Biden, who is often used by the White House to negotiate difficult deals, spoke to members of Congress on Tuesday to persuade them to back the Syria arms plan, US officials and a congressional source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"Biden was making phone calls today," to lobby Congress, the congressional source said. US officials also said CIA Director John Brennan, whose agency would run most of the arms operation, was part of the lobbying effort.