President Obama has asked Congress for half a billion dollars to train and equip moderate rebel groups in Syria. (Via The White House)
The request is part of the Defense Department's overseas budget, and The White House says it will be used to help "vetted elements of the Syrian armed opposition" to fight both Bashar al-Assad and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Obama has been under pressure from some lawmakers, like Senators John McCain and Bob Casey, to ramp up aid to the Syrian opposition. Last month, he announced he would seek the resources to do just that.
"In helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos." (Via The White House)
The $500 million budget would expand an existing program by the CIA to recruit and train moderate rebel groups. It also would force Congress, rather than The White House, to deal with the question of whether to send more aid into the war-torn country.
Obama has been criticized for not intervening sooner in Syrian crisis.
Romney: "Bad things happen as a result of inaction. Consequences have obviously been very severe." (Via NBC)
And he's been blamed for ignoring the growing threat of extremism in the Syrian opposition, which has now spilled into northern Iraq in the form of the group ISIS. (Via BBC)
Though the president rejects the notion that there was ever an easy answer to the Syrian crisis.
"This notion that somehow there was this ready-made moderate Syrian force that was able to defeat Assad is simply not true." (Via CBS)
Also in Obama's request: $1 billion to help Syria's neighbors deal with refugees and another billion to boost the U.S.'s military presence in Europe.