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Originally published Monday, May 6, 2013 at 12:23 PM

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Senate chairman pushed for arming Syrian rebels

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is calling for the United States to provide weapons to vetted Syrian opposition groups battling President Bashar Assad's forces in the 2-year-old civil war.

Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is calling for the United States to provide weapons to vetted Syrian opposition groups battling President Bashar Assad's forces in the 2-year-old civil war.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey introduced legislation on Monday that would allow for arms, military training and non-lethal aid to rebels that meet certain criteria on human rights and don't have links to terrorism.

The bill also would create a $250 million fund to assist the country in a transition after the end of the Assad regime. The measure would give the U.S. government the power to sanction any individual who sells or transfers military equipment, weapons or oil to Assad.

Menendez said the U.S. must act to tip the scales in favor of the opposition.

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