The shipment of weapons ends a months-long delay in aid promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures.
According to the Washington Post:
The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.
The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month.
The U.S. has also sent nonlethal gear to rebels, including vehicles, communications equipment and combat medical kits. It’s the administration’s hope that the weapons and additional aid will help boost the “prowess” of rebel fighters in the civil war.
The move to ship the aid comes after criticism fell on Obama for not keeping his promise.
Although the Obama administration signaled months ago that it would increase aid to Syrian rebels, the efforts have lagged because of the logistical challenges involved in delivering equipment in a war zone and officials’ fears that any assistance could wind up in the hands of jihadists. Secretary of State John F. Kerry had promised in Aprilthat the nonlethal aid would start flowing “in a matter of weeks.”
The delays prompted several senior U.S. lawmakers to chide the Obama administration for not moving more quickly to aid the Syrian opposition after promising lethal assistance in June. The criticism has grown louder amid the debate over whether Washington should use military force against the Syrian regime, with some lawmakers withholding support until the administration committed to providing the rebels with more assistance.
So much for not sticking our nose in a war.
SOURCE: Washington Post