Obama seeks $500M to arm select Syrian rebels

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is seeking to bolster U.S. efforts to train and arm select members of the Syrian opposition, a move that comes amid increased U.S. concern that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are becoming a fight against one Sunni extremist group.

Obama sent Congress a $500 million request Thursday for a Pentagon-run program that would significantly expand previous covert efforts to arm rebels fighting both the Sunni extremists and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd).

Obama has been reluctant to arm the opposition, in part because of concerns that weapons may fall into extremist hands. But his request to Congress appeared to indicate that tackling the crumbling security situation in Syria and Iraq trumped those concerns.

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