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Congress sends mixed messages on toppling Assad

The House passed a defense bill with contradictory guidance for assistance to the Syrian rebels.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18:  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey testifies before the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing on "The President's Proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against ISIL and the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense," on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. President Obama has requested authorization for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria against ISIS from Congress. (Photo by Allison Shelley/

WASHINGTON — Congress just can't decide what to do about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The House passed an annual defense bill on May 15 that instructs the Pentagon to ensure that Syrian rebels trained by the United States have the ability to defend themselves against Assad's forces. Another provision, however, seeks to blacklist vetted units and individuals from further US assistance if they fight the Syrian army instead of the Islamic State (IS).

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