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Senate Approves Measure To Arm And Train Syrian Rebels

The Senate joined the House on Thursday in rare bipartisanship by approving a measure to train and equip members of the Syrian opposition.

The Senate passed the measure 78 to 22; the House passed its version with a 273-to-156 vote on Wednesday. The bill now heads to the White House for President Obama's signature.

The measure is part of the United States new military offensive against the so-called Islamic State. In his prime-time speech to the country earlier this month, President Obama called on Congress to approve this training mission.

Reuters reports that the legislation "also temporarily keeps the government running in the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1."

Update at 7:04 p.m. ET. 'Americans Are United':

Shortly after the vote, President Obama delivered remarks from the White House.

He said he was pleased that a majority of both chambers and both parties "have voted to support a key element of our strategy."

He added: "I believe that we're strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together."

Obama said that this new authority will make moderate rebels in Syria stronger and it will weaken the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.

This bipartisan vote, Obama said, "shows the world Americans are united in fighting ISIL."

The president also reiterated that American troops in Iraq will have no combat role. He added that France had agreed to join the U.S. in its bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq.

Update at 6:44 p.m. ET. President Obama To Speak:

President Obama is scheduled to make a statement at 7 p.m. ET. We'll update this post with his comments.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.