Congress Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels Against ISIS

Share:
Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. The group has since swept into Iraq, taking the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul. (AP Photo/militant website, File)

Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. The group has since swept into Iraq, taking the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul. (AP Photo/militant website, File) (AP Photo/militant website, File)

September 18, 2014

Congress has voted to authorize arming and training Syrian rebels to do battle with the radical group known as ISIS. But as FRONTLINE reported from Syria earlier this year, some rebels say they were already secretly backed by the U.S. government.

The Senate voted 78-22 on Thursday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the group after President Obama asked for support. The House of Representatives voted 273-to-156 in favor of the measure Wednesday.

Watch more than 170 FRONTLINE documentaries in our archive

In the May documentary Syria: Arming the Rebels, rebels described a clandestine journey from the Syrian battlefield to meet with American handlers in Turkey. They said they then traveled to Qatar for training in sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques.

Watch FRONTLINE’s “How to Train a Rebel Army (Secretly) in Seven Steps:
(Story continues after video)

Opponents in both parties have expressed fears that formally authorizing U.S. backing of the rebels could eventually lead to U.S. ground troops fighting ISIS, which has killed untold numbers of civilians in both Iraq and Syria and publicly beheaded two American journalists and a British aide worker as it tries to establish a new state in Iraq and Syria.

Obama pledged to American troops Wednesday that he would not commit them to another ground war.


In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

The War in Afghanistan: As Biden Sets U.S. Withdrawal Date, 13 Documentaries Explore the Conflict and Its Impact
Explore nearly two decades of reporting from FRONTLINE on America’s longest war.
April 15, 2021
After Jan. 6, Investigating the Contours of a “Broad Fascist Movement” in the U.S.
In a scene from the new documentary “American Insurrection,” correspondent A.C. Thompson talks with sociologist Pete Simi about the state of domestic extremism in the U.S.
April 14, 2021
“I Felt Hate More Than Anything”: How an Active Duty Airman Tried to Start a Civil War
Steven Carrillo’s path to the Boogaloo Bois shows the hate group is far more organized and dangerous than previously known.
April 13, 2021
At George Floyd's Treatment Center, Recovering Clients See Racism in Addiction Assumptions
"Do you know how many times that could have been me?" Staff at a Minneapolis rehab facility that George Floyd attended see themselves in Floyd — and racism in theories about his drug use — the Star Tribune, our local journalism partner in Minneapolis, reports.
April 11, 2021