WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — Promising there will be no boots on the ground in Syria or Iraq in a combat role, President Obama welcomed congressional passage of his plan to arm Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure earlier Thursday, while a more divided House gave the proposal its OK on Wednesday.
The 73-22 Senate vote also provides money to keep the government operating after the end of the budget year on Sept. 30.
The bill essentially allows the president to declare war on ISIS, also known as ISIL, fighters inside Syria. The militant group’s avowed goal is to create an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East.
President Obama has declared the U.S. military role will be limited to airstrikes and advisers to support so-called moderate forces already fighting inside Syria.
The general plan is to have U.S. troops train Syrian rebels at camps in Saudi Arabia, a process that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said could take a year.
Additionally, the president already has said he will use existing authority to have the Pentagon deploy airstrikes against Islamic fighters in Syria as well as in Iraq. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the president received a detailed plan for operations in Syria during a visit Wednesday to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, and was reviewing it.
From halfway around the world came a chilling reminder from militants who already have overrun parts of Syria and Iraq and beheaded three Westerners. This time, the Islamic State group released a video showing a British journalist who said he was their prisoner.
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