Administration offers new assurances, as Senate vote nears

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Top administration officials have again been reassuring Congress -- and the public -- that there are no plans to involve U.S. troops in ground combat in Iraq or Syria.

The assurances came as the Senate moved toward a vote on President Barack Obama's request to train Syrian rebels for a war against Islamic State militants.

But Republican Sen. Rand Paul is warning Senate colleagues that by helping to arm and train Syrian rebels for the fight against the Islamic State group, they are intervening in a conflict "where both sides are evil" -- and where it will just serve to further destabilize the Middle East.

Despite the opposition from the potential presidential candidate, the Senate is expected to do what the House did yesterday, and approve Obama's plan for dealing with Islamic State militants.

Those militants, meanwhile, have released a new video today -- showing a British journalist who says he is their prisoner.

%@AP Links

209-a-15-(Secretary of State John Kerry, testifying before House Foreign Affairs Committee)-"that public announcement"-Secretary of State John Kerry says France will be part of the air campaign against the Islamic State group. (18 Sep 2014)

<<CUT *209 (09/18/14)££ 00:15 "that public announcement"

210-a-11-(Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying before House Armed Services Commirttee)-"and capable forces"-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the better the Syrian rebels become at fighting, the better the weapons that the U.S. will give them. (18 Sep 2014)

<<CUT *210 (09/18/14)££ 00:11 "and capable forces"

APPHOTO DCCK112: Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks with House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, after a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. At the hearing, Kerry sought to push back on an argument by some in Congress that Syria's rebels lack moderates, or at least any with the capacity to make a difference in the war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (18 Sep 2014)

<<APPHOTO DCCK112 (09/18/14)££

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