President Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to train and arm "appropriately vetted" (i.e. moderate, non-jihadist) Syrian rebels. From the New York Times:
The training program would be the most significant action yet by the United States in the conflict in Syria, which has spilled over the border now to Iraq, where a Qaeda-inspired insurgency is threatening the American-backed government.
The president asked Congress last month for a total of $5 billion in new Middle Eastern counterterrorism funding, but today's news is the first indication his administration intends to spend a specific portion of that amount (should they receive it) on Syria. For reference, the United States spends about $640 billion in total on defense annually.
Slate's Joshua Keating wrote earlier today about the difficult situation the United States faces in re: Syria—America has called for brutally repressive president Bashar al-Assad's resignation, but now both the U.S. and Assad's government are Iraq's allies in the war against ISIS.
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