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Plan to aid Syria rebels delayed

| Monday, July 8, 2013, 10:12 p.m.

Congressional committees are holding up a plan to send weapons to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad because of fears that such deliveries will not be decisive and the arms might end up in the hands of Islamist militants, five national security sources said.

Behind closed doors, the Senate and House intelligence committees have expressed reservations about the effort by President Obama's administration to support the insurgents by sending them military hardware. None of the military aid that the United States announced weeks ago has arrived in Syria, according to an official from an Arab country and Syrian opposition sources.

Democrats and Republicans on the committees are concerned that weapons could reach factions such as the Nusra Front, which is one of the most effective rebel groups but has been labeled by the United States as a front for al-Qaida in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces made significant progress in recapturing Homs from the rebel forces that have held the city for more than a year, according to rebel commanders and military officials in neighboring Lebanon.

Homs has been a symbolic and strategic asset to both sides since it became one of the first major cities in Syria to have several neighborhoods wrested from regime control. It lies at a crucial crossroads between Damascus and the coast, home to Syria's ports and ethnic villages that are home to supporters of the regime of President Bashar Assad.

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