Nightly News   |  June 25, 2013

US weapons to arrive in Syria next month

The rebel army in Syria is soon to be armed by Washington, which is supplying the rebels with $2.5 million each month. As they train for battle, the rebels wear American-supplied uniforms, eat U.S. military rations and use American radios. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now as promised with nbc news exclusive reporting tonight on the war in syria , and word that increased u.s. involvement is imminent. that's what put this story on the front burner. u.s. weapons are due to start arriving in rebel hands in the next two weeks. and the money, millions of dollars a month is already flowing through the pipeline. our report tonight from our chief foreign correspondent richard engel who has made his way back inside syria .

>> reporter: the rebel army in syria . funded and soon to be armed by washington. newly organized, training to use rifles and to march. they wear american supply uniforms, use american radios, they also say they have american cash, $2.5 million a month paid quietly by the u.s. and by july they'll have american weapons. their commander, moderate, secular, a military engineer who defected from assad's army. he showed us his men. a force he claims 80,000.

>> they are fighting for democracy and freedom, to stop killing, to defend their villages and towns.

>> he took us to the front line town near aleppo. he says he seldom faces syrian regime forces any more.

>> those who are fighting on the ground are iraqi fighters.

>> iraqi shiite fighters?

>> yes, of course.

>> reporter: he can see a hezbollah position just a few hundred yards away after fighting for more than two years. rebels say they are finally at a turning point in this war. and that for the first time, they have an organizes unified command and critically, the united states has agreed to send weapons, with the first shipments arriving in the next two weeks. but the general wants more than small arms.

>> i told them that we need anti-tank missiles and aircraft missiles. because items like this are not so effective.

>> without them, the rebels will lose. the choices in syria are difficult. in a war americans do not want any part of. or do nothing and watch the chaos spread. richard engel , nbc news, syria .