United We Stand

The Senate voted Thursday with a bipartisan majority to arm and train Syrian opposition forces. The move comes one day after the House approved a similar measure. “The strong bipartisan support” by an often gridlocked Congress “shows the world that Americans are united in confronting the threat from [ISIS], which has slaughtered so many innocent civilians,” said President Barack Obama in a statement, released after the vote. He added, “As Americans, we do not give in to fear. And, when you harm our citizens, when you threaten the United States, when you threaten our allies—it doesn’t divide us. It unites us. We pull together, we stand together to defend this country that we love and to make sure justice is done, as well as to join with those who seek a better future of dignity and opportunity for all people.” Both Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said training and equipping opposition forces is a “key element” of the President’s strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. “While it will take time to strengthen the moderate Syrian opposition forces, they and the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish forces are central to confronting [ISIS],” said Hagel in a statement released Thursday. (House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon’s statement on passage of the Syria amendment.) (Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin’s floor statement.)