(WASHINGTON) -- Syrian rebels are now receiving U.S. weapons months after President Obama promised to supply them to groups seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, The Washington Post reports. The Post quotes U.S. officials and Syrians familiar with the situation as saying that light weapons and other munitions delivered by the CIA began arriving about two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the State Department is also supplying the Syrians with non-lethal equipment, including cars and sophisticated communications gear.
Arming the Syrians after listening to their pleas for months comes while Obama seeks a diplomatic solution to the standoff over chemical weapons with the possibility of striking Syria militarily if Damascus reneges on surrendering its arsenals of deadly toxins.
While the administration also prefers Assad’s removal, it has been dragging its feet over actually sending weapons to the rebels, fearing that they could fall into the hands of Islamic militant groups with links to al Qaeda.
But after much deliberation, the White House has chosen to arm rebels under the command of General Salim Idriss, who heads the moderate Supreme Military Council.
The conflict in Syria began in March 2011, initially as a government crackdown on pro-democracy activists. It has since exploded into a much wider civil war, involving numerous factions and foreign fighters including Hezbollah from Lebanon. The estimated death toll is well over 100,000 although exact numbers are difficult to ascertain.
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