Congress authorizes Trump to arm Syrian rebels with MANPADs

Source: Al Monitor

The House voted for the first time today to explicitly authorize the incoming Donald Trump administration to arm vetted Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles.

While the language in the annual defense bill also creates restrictions on the provision of the controversial weapons, it represents a win for Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., a fervent advocate of helping the rebels resist President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies. The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week.

Until now, the transfer of man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADs, had been implicitly authorized in the absence of an outright ban. Critics, however, view the new provision as tantamount to a policy recommendation for the president-elect.

The new provision was added in while the House and Senate worked out differences between the bills they passed earlier this year. The original House bill expressly prohibited the transfer of MANPADs to “any entity” in Syria, while the Senate version made no mention of them.

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