(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Congress has officially authorized US President Barack Obama's plan to provide training and send weapons to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), following a 78-22 vote of approval in the Senate. The House of Representatives, late on Thursday, put the plan through one day earlier, despite the lack of specifics and the lack of a budget for the operation. "These Syrian opposition forces are fighting both the brutality of ISIL terrorists and the tyranny of the Assad regime," Obama said in remarks after the vote. "We had already ramped up our assistance, including military assistance, to the Syrian opposition. With this new effort, we'll provide training and equipment to help them grow stronger and take on ISIL terrorists inside Syria." In a statement, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the vote a "key element of the president's comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIL.
"While it will take time to strengthen the moderate Syrian opposition forces, they and the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish forces are central to confronting ISIL," he said. "The U.S. military will work closely with regional partners, including Saudi Arabia, to recruit and vet the opposition forces, and we will continue to build and sustain a broad coalition to implement our strategy." Obama explained that "this is in keeping with a key principle" of the US strategy not to include boots on the ground. "[The military's] mission is to advise and assist our partners on the ground," he said.
He further noted that Congressional approval for his plan "shows the world that Americans are united in confronting the threat from ISIL, which has slaughtered so many innocent civilians."
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