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Sending weapons to Syrian rebels under scrutiny

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WASHINGTON -- The decision by the president to get deeper into the Syrian civil war and arm some rebels is being scrutinized by the U.S. public. It’s the latest on the controversy that is splitting lawmakers in Washington.

Syrian rebels say they're sad that 93,000 Syrians died before the U.S. agreed to send the rebels arms, but they'll be happy to have them.

Khalid Saleh, Syrian National Council Spokesman says, “This is something that the Syrian revolution, the Free Syrian Army members, has been waiting for many, many months, something that we welcome.”

The Syrian government forces of Bashir Assad are already getting aid of their own missiles from Russia and grounds troops from Hezbollah allied with Iran.

Former President Bill Clinton was pushing for U.S. involvement.

President Clinton says, “With Hezbollah coming out of Lebanon. It's an external as well as internal fight. And I think we should support the rebel groups more vigorously.”

The U.S. asserts the Syrian government did use the poison Sarin against the rebels.

Ben Rhodes Deputy National Security Advisor says, “This isn't just a red line for United States, in our view; it should be a red line for the international community generally.”

The Russians reject the U.S. accusation because of Iraq. And the false U.S. claim that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Making sure Syrian poison gas can't be used ought to be a top U.S. goal, say some senate republicans.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) from South Carolina says, “The next bomb that goes off in a place like Boston could have more than nails and glass in it cause the people that want these weapons in Syria, the people who are trying to develop nuclear capability in Iran, if you don't think they're coming after us, you're naive.”

Some lawmakers in the senate say it’s best to stay out of Syria.

Sen. Angus King (I) from Maine asks, “Once we get in how to we get out?”

Others like Senator John McCain want the U.S. to do more, like bombing Syrian government airfields.

The plan by the president is supported by just 11 percent of Americans according to an NBC news/Wall Street journal poll.

Leaders stress that the U.S. does not plan to arm Syrian rebels with ties to Al-Qaeda so when Assad is defeated, it won't be Islamic radicals that win control of the country.

Steve Handelsman for NBC News