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Obama Asks For $500 Million To Train, Equip Syrian Rebels

President Obama has asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels who are seeking the ouster of Bashar Assad.

If Congress approves the plan, it would supplement a covert training and assistance program already being run by U.S. intelligence agencies, The Associated Press says.

The White House says in a statement that the rebels would be vetted before providing assistance, to ensure that U.S. equipment doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

According to the AP: "The Syria program is part of a broader $65.8 billion overseas operations request that the administration sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday. The package includes $1 billion to help stabilize nations bordering Syria that are struggling with the effects of the civil war. It also formalizes a request for a previously announced $1 billion to strengthen the U.S. military presence in Central and Eastern Europe amid Russia's threatening moves in Ukraine."

Reuters notes:

"Obama has been under strong pressure from some lawmakers, such as Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, to increase assistance to the rebels in Syria's three-year-old civil war. Some lawmakers have accused Obama of being passive and indecisive for months, allowing Assad to repulse a threat to his government.

"Obama's request for $500 million followed through on a promise he made in late May in a foreign policy speech that he would 'ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators.' "

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