(Sharona Schwartz) Congress is so concerned that U.S. weapons could reach al-Qaeda-linked extremists that it’s reportedly holding up the Obama administration’s plans to arm Syrian “rebels.”
In an exclusive report based on interviews with five unnamed U.S. security sources, Reuters writes that congressional committees are holding up the military aid because of fears it could end up in the hands of jihadi militants of the Al-Nusra Front – which is believed to have ties to Al-Qaeda. Congress has also expressed concern that those weapons may not be decisive in the ongoing battle between Syrian President Bashar Assad and his opponents.
Quoting Arab and Syrian opposition sources, Reuters reports that as a result, no U.S. weapons have arrived yet in Syria. It also reports that funding for the weapons deliveries “has been temporarily frozen.”
According to Reuters, the Senate and House intelligence committees have conveyed their concerns about the administration’s plans in closed door meetings.
The news agency describes a secret briefing last month during which Secretary of State John Kerry and outgoing CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told congressional intelligence committees about the plans to arm rebels in light of evidence that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, crossing a red line that President Barack Obama had defined.
According to Reuters, members of both committees voiced doubts, a sentiment echoed in the appropriations committees of both the House and the Senate.
“As noted at the time we announced the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council, we will continue to consult closely with Congress on these matters,” National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told Reuters on Monday.