Rivalries pose problem in arming Syrian rebels

A Syrian rebel fires a heavy machine gun towards Syrian soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Aleppo, Syria. _ The Syrian rebels' record in handling tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid so far suggests major challenges ahead for any delivery of American weapons and ammunition. Food, medicine and other life-saving supplies regularly run into long delays because of bickering among rebel factions, U.S. officials say. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Syrian rebels’ record in handling tens of millions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid suggests major challenges ahead for any delivery of American weapons and ammunition.

Officials tell The Associated Press that packages of food, medicine and other lifesaving supplies for victims in Syria’s civil war often face long delays because of political infighting among rival opposition factions — though no supplies appear to be heading to terrorists or corrupt hoarders.

The dysfunction is nothing new. But it’s getting increased scrutiny now that the Obama administration has decided to authorize lethal military support to units fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

What that military aid will involve is still unclear, and that’s a concern, too, for both supporters and opponents of further aiding the rebels.

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