- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sen. Robert Menendez brought forth a bill Monday to give munitions to rebel fighters in Syria. So far, the United States has only provided non-lethal aid to the opposition fighters, in the form of medical supplies and food.

Mr. Menendez, who heads the Foreign Relations Committee, specified that only those rebel forces that had been fully vetted would be eligible to receive the weapons, The Hill reported.

Other lawmakers have joined the call to arm the rebel fighters, and the Obama administration — which said weeks ago that the “red line” for U.S. involvement would be proof of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical warfare — is reportedly mulling the pros-cons of the same, The Hill reported.

Sen. John McCain called for “game-changing action” in Syria on Sunday, fanning the flames for the U.S. to send in weapons. And Sen. Bob Casey said similarly on Monday — that “there’s a broad consensus of support now for, at a minimum, a safe zone within Syria, where an international coalition led by the United States sets up a safe zone within Syria,” he said on MSNBC.

Opponents of sending in weapons for rebel fighters say U.S. involvement would only escalate fighting.

“There’s an enormous concern that it could become a more regional thing,” said Rep. Peter Welch, in The Hill report.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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