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Rand Paul: ‘Mistake to arm’ Syrian rebels

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday it is “a mistake to arm” vetted Syrian rebels to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

“It’s a mistake to arm them. Most of the arms we’ve given to the so-called moderate rebels have wound up in the hands of ISIS, because ISIS simply takes it from them, or it’s given to them, or we mistakenly actually give it to some of the radicals,” Paul said on CBS’s “This Morning.”

{mosads}President Obama last week decided to expand U.S. airstrikes against ISIS to Syria and asked Congress to give him authority to arm and train vetted pro-Western Syrian rebel groups.

Paul said rebel fighters in Syria are focused on overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, rather than fighting ISIS. 

He pointed to reports of a truce between some moderate Syrian rebels and ISIS over the weekend. 

“I would say one insightful piece of news from the last week is, some of the moderate rebels, so-called moderate rebels have now signed a cease-fire with ISIS,” he said. “So, really their enemy is really Assad. They don’t really care what ISIS does.”

Paul’s comments come as lawmakers scramble to pass a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Obama has asked Congress to attach a measure expanding his Syria authority to the continuing resolution, but some lawmakers want a separate vote.

Paul has recently said he would go to Congress to get authorization for military force against ISIS if he were president, and has expressed approval for expanding airstrikes in Syria. 

He defended his evolving position after signaling in June that there did not seem to be a clear U.S. interest in targeting ISIS at the time. 

“I am, like most Americans, I am influenced by the beheading of Americans, now the beheading of a British journalist,” he said. “I think it’s going to unite the world against ISIS.

“But I have steadfastly been against Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s intervention in Libya as well as Syria, because I think they have helped to create the situation that we now face with ISIS,” Paul added.

Tags ISIS Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Rand Paul Syrian rebels
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