Senate panel approves weapons for Syrian rebels

A Senate panel has voted to provide weapons to rebels battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The vote by the Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday marked the first time that lawmakers have backed the aggressive military step of arming vetted opposition forces.

The vote was 15-3. The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed after more than two years of civil war.

Leading the bipartisan legislation were Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the panel's chairman, and Sen. Bob Corker, the committee's top Republican.

The fate of the bill is uncertain as many members of the House aren't as enthusiastic for U.S. military action in the Mideast nation. The bill comes as the Obama administration mulls its next step on Syria.