Report: Congressional Intel Committees Delay Aid to Syrian Rebels

| Tue Jul. 9, 2013 12:25 PM EDT

The House and Senate intelligence committees are reportedly holding up the Obama administration's recently announced plan to send arms and military hardware to rebels at war with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The main—and obvious—reason? Fear of weapons falling into the hands of unfriendly Islamist militants.

Reuters has the story:

None of the military aid that the United States announced weeks ago has arrived in Syria, according to an official from an Arab country and Syrian opposition sources.

Democrats and Republicans on the committees worry that weapons could reach factions like the Nusra Front which is one of the most effective rebel groups but has also been labeled by the United States as a front for al Qaeda in Iraq...Funding that the administration advised the Congressional committees it wanted to use to pay for arms deliveries to Assad's opponents has been temporarily frozen, the sources said...Anti-Assad groups have been calling for more advanced weaponry since the government launched a new offensive in central Syria with the help of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah...Over the weekend, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood said it felt "abandoned and disappointed" that the United States and Europe had failed to deliver rebels promised military support.

According to national security sources, the committee members want to learn more about the administration's overall policy and arms-delivery plan before they decide on unfreezing funding. The State Department and Senate Intelligence Committee have not responded to Mother Jones' requests for comment, and the House Intelligence Committee had no immediate comment on the story.