Senior US Democrat to introduce bill on arming Syrian rebels

Voice of Russia, Jerusalem Post – 19.3.2013 – A senior US Democrat is going to introduce a bill on Monday that will authorize Washington to give “lethal help” to Syrian opposition, local media report. Eliot Engel, a Democrat MP on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, is pushing the Obama administration to arm and train rebel fighters, as well as boost humanitarian aid for the region.

Earlier Washington vowed to provide the Syrian opposition with “non-lethal” military help, but President Obama has so far refused to give them weapons, saying it can fall into the hands of extremists and be used against Western countries. Last Friday, Rep. Engel sent a letter to members of the foreign affairs committee seeking support for his initiative. He stressed that some 70,000 people had been killed since the Syrian conflict started two years ago, while over a million were forced to flee the country or move to safer regions. “It is time for us to develop a comprehensive approach to stopping the carnage,” Mr. Engel wrote. He confessed there was a risk to arming opposition militants, but said military aid could put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and ensure a constructive relationship between the US and the interim government that would be set up following President Assad’s resignation.