Influential senator offers bill to arm Syria rebels

WASHINGTON Mon May 6, 2013 3:31pm EDT

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, asks questions during testimony in Washington February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, asks questions during testimony in Washington February 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill on Monday that would provide weapons to some vetted groups of Syrian rebels.

Menendez, a Democrat, was one of a few senators pushing the White House to provide for lethal aid to some of the rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even before reports that chemical weapons had been used in the conflict.

The bill would have to get through the committee and be approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives, and signed by President Barack Obama before becoming law.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Editing by Alistair Bell and Sandra Maler)

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