Murphy win: White House ends lethal aid to Syrian rebels

Murphy wins battle to halt lethal aid to Syrian rebels.

Murphy wins battle to halt lethal aid to Syrian rebels.

Sen. Chris Murphy scored something of a foreign policy victory Friday when the Obama administration adopted his position and halted the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter agreed with Murphy and other Democratic senators that the well-intentioned program was problematic owing to reports of equipment falling into the hands of an al-Qaeda ally

“In the wake of such disturbing revelations _ most recently when Syrian rebels trained by the United States gave U.S.-issued equipment to the al-Nusra Front _ I am pleased that the Obama administration has suspended the program’s operation,’’ said Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “An effective campaign to degrade ISIL does not require the U.S. to become dangerously intertwined into the Syrian civil war.’’

Murphy has carved out a position as a diplomacy-first advocate, arguing that military intervention or support should be a final option, not a primary one.

“This is a moment for the United States to reevaluate our regional strategy and focus on our core strategic interests—which include supporting our allies in the region, continuing to degrade ISIL, and addressing the plight of Syrian refugees,’’ Murphy said. “I will continue to work in the Senate to provide additional funding for those critical efforts, but I strongly caution the administration against pursuing any further overt or clandestine operations to intervene in the Syrian civil war.’’

Daniel Freedman