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Obama seeks $500 mn to train, equip Syrian rebels

Destruction is seen following a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern city of Aleppo on June 26, 2014US President Barack Obama called on Congress Thursday to approve $500 million to train and equip vetted Syrian rebels, in what would be a significant escalation of US involvement in the conflict. Following several signals in recent weeks by the Obama administration — and months of pressure from lawmakers like Senator John McCain — the White House said it intends to “ramp up US support to the moderate Syrian opposition.” In a separate statement, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the funding “would build on the administration’s longstanding efforts to empower the moderate Syrian opposition” and allow the Pentagon to increase its support to vetted armed rebels. Washington has been studying options for providing additional assistance to rebel forces beyond the existing aid, which includes mainly “non-lethal” support.

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