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Obama seeks S$626 million to train, equip Syrian rebels

Published on Jun 27, 2014 7:12 AM
Members of Kurdish Peshmerga forces hold their position on June 21, 2014, in the Iraqi village of Basheer, 15 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk, overlooking locations under Sunni militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House asked lawmakers on Thursday for US$500 million (S$626 million) to train and equip vetted Syrian rebels, in what would be a significant escalation of US involvement in a conflict that has spilled into Iraq.

Following several signals in recent weeks by President Barack Obama's administration - and months of pressure from lawmakers like Senator John McCain - the White House said it intends to "ramp up US support to the moderate Syrian opposition."

The request is part of a US$1.5 billion Regional Stabilization Initiative to bolster stability in Syrian neighbours Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and to support communities hosting refugees.

The proposed funding would serve "vetted elements of the Syrian armed opposition to help defend the Syrian people, stabilise areas under opposition control, facilitate the provision of essential services, counter terrorist threats and promote conditions for a negotiated settlement," the White House said in a statement.

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