White House seeks to boost Syrian rebels
By MANU RAJU and JOHN BRESNAHAN | 9/9/14 10:14 PM EDT
The White House is circulating a proposal for new authority to arm and equip Syrian rebels, deepening U.S. involvement in the battle against Islamic militants.
The move would force lawmakers to take a position on a key element of the White House’s soon-to-be-unveiled strategy to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. President Barack Obama will lay out a detailed plan against ISIL during a primetime speech to the nation on Wednesday night as the growing turmoil in the Middle East increasingly dominates the national debate ahead of the midterm elections.
The language the administration is considering would prop up Syrian rebels without committing the U.S. to sending ground troops into Syria.
“Without an anomaly, the Department of Defense’s ability to begin a program to train and equip appropriately vetted Syrian opposition fighters would be delayed, affecting the Administration’s overall efforts to degrade ISIL and help bring about an end to the conflict,” according to a copy of the White House summary obtained by POLITICO.
The issue was raised at a private White House meeting Tuesday between Obama and congressional leaders, sources said.