Obama Gives $600 Million to Syrian Rebels, $300 Million to Kiev

The defense funding bill for 2016 includes a great sum of money to support rebels in Syria and lethal aid to the current Ukrainian government. While Obama is at odds with lawmakers over some of the provisions in the bill, chances are they're likely to remain. The $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act is facing resistance because it contains provisions blocking the plans to close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay and avoids a cap on defense spending.

While the White House and the lawmakers are in dispute over the details, they appear to be in agreement on continuing to send military aid to the regime in Ukraine and the elusive “moderate rebels” in Syria.

Some $600 million has been earmarked for a program to support the “appropriately vetted” Syrian rebels, fighting against both the government in Damascus and Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL).

Section 1225 of the NDAA allocates $531.5 million directly to the Syria Train and Equip program, and directs an additional $25.8 million to the US Army and $42.8 million to the US Air Force, to cover the costs of their participation.

The 2015 version of the NDAA allocated $500 million for the training and equipping of “moderate rebels.” Though the Pentagon hoped to have a force of 5,000 fighters by the end of 2015, the program has produced only a handful – literally. Top US military officials admitted only “five or six” rebels remained in combat after the first group was scattered by Al-Nusra terrorists in July. The second batch of rebels surrendered to Al-Nusra last month, with all their US-provided gear.

The text of the bill as reconciled between the House of Representatives and the Senate lays out the conditions for the aid, including the provision that the Pentagon must prevent the weapons, ammunition and supplies given to the rebels from falling into the hands of IS, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, the Khorasan Group, “any other violent extremist organization,” as well as “Syrian Arab Army or any group or organization supporting President Bashir [sic] Assad.”

Washington insists that the government of President Assad is the “root of all evil” in Syria and that regime change in Damascus should be pursued parallel to the struggle against Islamic State.

United States troops have been training Ukrainian government soldiers since Spring, but this will be the first time that Washington has authorized lethal aid for Kiev. On the Syrian front, it wouldn't be the first time that the government has trained or offered lethal aid to rebel forces there. This all sounds too familiar.

Source: rt.com




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