Report: Defense bill OKs arms to Syria

Lawmakers have agreed to fund weapons for moderate rebels in Syria in a secret part of the Defense spending bill that passed late last year, Reuters reports.

Small arms and anti-tank rockets have begun flowing to rebels who are fighting both Bashar Assad's regime and Islamist extremists affiliated with al Qaeda, Obama administration officials told the wire service. The arms shipments don't include surface-to-air missiles and other advanced weapons that the U.S. is worried could fall into the hands of its enemies.

The White House announced in June that it would begin providing arms to the rebels after it determined that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons. The House and Senate intelligence panels held up the aid for several months amid concerns that the administration did not have a plan in place to make sure the weapons did not end up in extremists' hands.

The revelation comes as the Syrian government and opposition figures are seeking to reach agreement on a transitional government in talks backed by the United States and Russia.  

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