With Obama's new plan for Syrian rebels, new worries

October 20, 2015 22:57


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama's plan to directly arm rebels fighting inside Syria is raising concern from Congress and intelligence officials over whether it provides enough safeguards to prevent the weapons falling into the wrong hands.

The new approach replaces a largely failed effort in which the Pentagon trained rebels outside of Syria and sent them back to the battlefield after an exhaustive vetting process to ensure they were not linked to radical Islamic groups. Only about 180 rebels were trained, of whom 145 remain active, with about 95 inside Syria, a military spokesman said on Friday.

The revised plan to battle Islamic State in northern Syria kicked off on Oct. 11, when US Air Force C-17 cargo planes conducted what the Pentagon described as a successful airdrop of machine gun ammunition, grenades and rocket-propelled grenade rounds to Syrian Arab fighters.

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