Washington, DCā€” U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement today in response to reports that the Obama Administration is moving towards providing weapons to the Syrian opposition.

The statement follows:

ā€œI welcome reports that the Obama Administration is moving towards providing arms to vetted Syrian opposition members ā€“ a decision that is long overdue. The illegitimate Assad regime is now winning the fight, thanks to assistance from Russia, along with Iran and their terrorist proxy Hezbollah. The only way to stop the slaughter and to prevent the Syria conflict from engulfing the entire region is to empower the moderate opposition and help ensure they have a role in the future direction of Syria. Otherwise, we will see more killing, more refugees, more sectarian violence in Lebanon and Iraq, more pressure on our ally Jordan, and an increasing likelihood that al Qaeda and its affiliates will control the heart of the Levant region.ā€

In March, Representative Engel introduced the Free Syria Act (FSA) of 2013, the most comprehensive congressional bill on Syria, authorizing the President to provide appropriate assistance, including limited lethal equipment, to vetted Syrian opposition members, increase humanitarian assistance to affected Syrian populations, and begin planning for a post-Assad Syria to include lifting of Syrian sanctions.