House approves arms for Syrian Rebels against ISIS

The United States House of Representatives voted to give authority to President Barack Obama to train and arm Syrian rebels to fight against Islamic State militants.

The Republican-dominated House approved 273-156 Wednesday with little pride as “this is the best of a long list of bad options,” Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said.

“[The House] took an important step forward as our nation unites to conform the threat posed by the Islamic State group,” Obama said in a statement following the vote.

According to CNN, many Republicans argued arming Syrian rebels is not enough to neutralize ISIS, and is a potential avenue to pull the U.S. into another military engagement. Currently, the vote is awaiting the Senate’s vote that could happen as early as Thursday.

House Democrats are in line with Republican concerns as many are skeptical, however Democrats defending Obama’s request argue the effort would encourage international partners to join the U.S. against ISIS.

California Republican representative Duncan Hunter told CNN he has “no confidence we are arming the right people,” citing the sectarian violence in the region has worsened from his experience as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the Republicans who voted to approve the strategy, Rep. Kevin Brady, D-The Woodlands, said the approval does not expand Obama’s authority, moreover “restricts the Administration’s authority, emphasizing Congressional oversight.”

“It’s clear that ISIS is the best equipped and financed terrorist threat America has faced, and left unchecked is a grave threat to our security,” Brady said in a statement. “Air strikes alone are not enough; capable armed forces on the ground are necessary.”

Brady said although arming Syrian rebels is a first step to defeat ISIS, the responsibility is on “President Obama to build a coalition with our allies to eliminate this terror threat, including strengthening our own border.”

The House’s vote comes the same day as ISIS released a video to YouTube idolizing the group and belittles Western soldiers. Titled “Flames of War,” ISIS video is a response to Obama’s speech, according to NBC News, and a “declaration of war from ISIS on the U.S.”

The video features battlefield scenes as well as political images including President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner and images of the White House. The video ends with the title card with a closing message “coming soon.”

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