Nightly News   |  July 18, 2013

US hesitates to arm Syria’s rebels as Assad gains ground

America’s top military brass told Congress Thursday Syria’s President Assad is winning his country’s civil war, but Congress is worried that if the U.S. sends weapons to the rebels they will end up in the wrong hands. During Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to a refugee camp in Jordan, rebels said they blame America for their setbacks. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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

>>> a great deal of frustration heard today about the civil war in syria, as u.s. military leaders told congress and washington the assad regime is now winning. syrian refugees were asking secretary of state john kerry on a visit to jordan where is the help? our report on all of it tonight from our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell , in our d.c. bureau.

>> reporter: touring a sprawling refugee camp eight miles from the syrian bothered, john kerry got an earful. more than a month after president obama promised to arm the opposition, no weapons have been sent. refugees pleaded with kerry, what are you waiting for, demanding a no-fly zone to stop assad 's fighter jets and scud missiles .

>> i think they are frustrated and angry at the world for not stepping in and helping.

>> reporter: why the delay? as rebel factions fight each other and al qaeda gains influence, congress is afraid the weapons will get into the wrong hands.

>> if you're going to put the good name of the united states at risk, you better do it right. again, i was arguing for something earlier to prevent what we now know is a rising al qaeda membership, some 6,000 in the country.

>> reporter: as the rebels falter, assad has cemented his control over central syria, with weapons from russia and iran and hezbollah fighters.

>> it is the nation's policy that assad must go.

>> if nothing changes, if we don't change our game, will they be in power a year from now?

>> i think likely so.

>> reporter: and this makeshift camp is now semipermanent, jordan's fifth largest city population 120,000, 30,000 of them children. light years from the debates in washington . andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington .