Washington, D.C. – Congress has approved assistance to countries in the Middle East and North Africa seeking to stem the tide of foreign fighters to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The provision is contained in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate approved $619 billion measure by a vote of 92-7 on Dec. 8, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it. The House of Representatives passed the NDAA last week.

The bill expands the authority to provide assistance not only to the governments of Jordan and Lebanon but also, to those of Egypt and Tunisia.

The bill also authorizes the military to draw funding from the newly-established Counter-ISIL Fund in support of that assistance. Congress created the Counter-ISIL fund in this year’s NDAA as well, combining the previously distinct Iraq and Syria Train and Equip authorities. It approved the president’s full request of an additional $919.5 million for this year.

The NDAA creates a counter ISIL fund, combining the previously distinct Iraq and Syria Train and Equip authorities. It approved the president’s full request of an additional $919.5 million for this year.

 The authorization follows recent efforts by Tunisia and Egypt to beef up their border security with the assistance of the United States against foreign fighters originating from Libya. In 2015, the United States approved the sale of a $100 million mobile surveillance sensor system to Egypt to deploy on its border with Libya. Tunisia, meanwhile, has worked to build a strong security fence that would cover nearly half of its border with Libya.

 Featured image courtesy of The U.S. Army.

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