Senior Democrat urges Obama to arm Syrian rebels

Eliot Engel seeks to introduce bill authorizing Washington to give lethal aid to members of the Syrian opposition, aides and activists.

By REUTERS
March 18, 2013 01:25
2 minute read.
FREE SYRIAN Army fighters pose on a tank

FREE SYRIAN Army fighters pose on a tank 370 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

WASHINGTON - The senior Democrat on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee is pushing President Barack Obama's administration to train and arm some Syrian rebels, in addition to providing humanitarian assistance.

Representative Eliot Engel will introduce a bill on Monday that would authorize Washington to provide assistance "including limited lethal equipment" to carefully vetted members of the Syrian opposition, aides and activists aware of Engel's plans said on Sunday.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Washington has pledged non-lethal aid to Syria's rebels, but Obama has so far refused to give them arms, arguing that it is difficult to prevent the weapons from falling into the hands of militants who could use them against Western targets.

The push by Engel, a New York Democrat, which comes days before Obama is due to visit the Middle East, could strengthen the resolve of some US legislators to do more to end the bloodshed in Syria.

A handful of Republican legislators, including Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio, have been pressing for various forms of US military aid to the rebels.

The European Union also has been debating what aid is appropriate for the Syrian opposition. Other EU governments rebuffed efforts by France and Britain on Friday to lift an arms embargo to help opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although they asked foreign ministers to discuss it again this week.

Engel sent a "Dear Colleague" letter on Friday to members of the foreign affairs committee seeking support for the bill and citing the estimated 70,000 Syrians who have died, 1 million refugees and 2.5 million people internally displaced since the rebellion against Assad began two years ago.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


Click for full JPost coverage

"It is time for us to develop a comprehensive approach to stopping the carnage," Engel said in the letter.

Although he acknowledged there are risks to arming the rebels, Engel said providing military aid to Syria's opposition would bring the humanitarian disaster to an end and help ensure that the United States has a constructive relationship with Syria's new government after the end of Assad's rule.

Engel's legislation would also authorize the administration to increase humanitarian assistance to Syrians affected by the two-year-long civil war and begin planning for the country's future after Assad.

Backing the Syrian opposition is increasingly seen as the only leverage that foreign powers have in trying to support the uprising against Assad.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

MEN RIDE a motorcycle yesterday past a hazard sign in rebel-held Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib pro
September 20, 2018
What the Russia-Turkey Idlib agreement reveals about the Syrian conflict

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN