Senate Dems worried US-backed Syrian groups fighting each other
© Getty Images

Two Democratic senators are pushing the White House for details on U.S. train-and-equip programs in Syria after reports that U.S-backed groups are fighting each other. 

Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyMissouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE (D-Conn.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, about their "concerns about the direction and goals of our Syria train and equip program." 
“We respectfully request additional information about our Syria train and equip program, including how the administration is de-conflicting our support for opposition groups with different interests," they wrote. 
The senators noted that Congress is considering whether to approve a request "to finance the vetted Syrian Opposition Force." Carter suggested last week that Congress is holding up $349 million in train-and-equip funding.
The letter, which was sent Monday but released Tuesday, comes after the Los Angeles Times reported that CIA-backed Syrian rebels were fighting Pentagon-backed Syrian groups. 
The two senators want to know — if the Times report is true — who the groups are and "what are their goals." 
"We recognize that some of the opposition groups we support may have goals and priorities that are secondary to the national security interests of the United States," Schatz and Murphy wrote.
"If and when the opportunity to supplant the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime presents itself, these groups could choose to pursue their own interests at the expense of others." 
The senators also want Clapper and Carter to explain which U.S. agency is responsible for coordinating Syria train-and-equip programs, how the agency is coordinating U.S. efforts and what is the Defense Department's involvement. 
In light of the Times report, they also want to know how the U.S. government should stop any fighting between U.S.-backed groups if that occurred. 
The Pentagon announced last month that it had restarted training "dozens" of moderate Syrian rebels after shutting down the initial program in 2015. 
Lawmakers, however, have voiced deep skepticism about restarting the Pentagon's program. They warned earlier this year that it could amount to little more than wasted tax dollars or bolster terrorist groups by giving them access to U.S. weapons.