President Barack Obama has requested an additional $500 million from Congress to train and equip “appropriately vetted elements” of the moderate Syrian opposition.
For years moderate Syrian forces have been facing a hydra-headed enemy: the Assad regime which has used chemical weapons and barrel bombs against Syrian civilians; fighters supplied by Assad’s ally Iran; and extremist Islamist terrorists, like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, which recently announced the formation of a caliphate in areas it has forcibly seized in Syria and Iraq. The al-Qaida offshoot, so brutal in its methods that it has supposedly been renounced by al-Qaida, is known for summary executions, including beheadings and crucifixions, of those it deems opponents or infidels.
In a statement, U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said that the additional $500 million President Obama has requested for the moderate Syrian opposition “would help defend the Syrian people, stabilize areas under opposition control, facilitate the provision of essential services, counter terrorist threats, and promote conditions for a negotiated settlement. This funding,” she added, “will enable the Department of Defense to increase our support to vetted elements of the armed opposition.”
The $500 million request to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition is part of a larger $5 billion request by President Obama for a new counterterrorism fund, $1.5 billion of which will be used to help Syria’s neighbors – including Turkey, Jordan and Iraq -- secure their borders and assist the millions of Syrian refugees who have fled Syria.
National Security Council Spokesperson Hayden said the United States continues to believe that while “there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria, and that the United States should not put American troops into combat in Syria, this request marks another step toward helping the Syrian people defend themselves against regime attacks, push back against the growing number of extremists like ISIL who find safe-haven in chaos, and take their future into their own hands by enhancing security and stability at local levels.”