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House votes to arm Syrian rebels with eye toward Assad

Regime change in Syria remains the endgame for measure's earliest supporters.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ)(R) questions Secretary of State John Kerry as Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) looks on during a hearing on "U.S. Strategy to Defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" on Capitol Hill in Washington September 17, 2014.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR46NIU

The US House of Representatives voted 273-156 on Sept. 17 to train and equip vetted Syrian rebels, sending the measure to the Senate for quick action before Congress leaves town until after the November midterm elections.

While the immediate goal is to defeat the Islamic State (IS), key lawmakers made clear that their ultimate objective remains the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The handful of House and Senate members who have supported the mission for more than a year — long before IS, ISIS and ISIL became household names — said they remain committed to regime change in Syria and expressed concern that the Barack Obama administration has put that goal to rest.

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