News / Middle East

    Hagel: US Rethinking Arming Syrian Rebels

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, accompanied by British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, addresses reporters following talks at the Pentagon, near Washington, May 2, 2013.
    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, accompanied by British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, addresses reporters following talks at the Pentagon, near Washington, May 2, 2013.
    Luis Ramirez
    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the United States is rethinking its opposition to arming Syrian rebels.

    The United States has been sending non-lethal aid to rebels, until now ruling out arming the rebel forces that have for the past two years been fighting the government of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

    At a briefing Thursday, Secretary Hagel said the Obama administration is rethinking that position and considering the full range of options.

    “Arming the rebels, that's an option,” he said.
     
    Residents inspect damage after shelling that activists attribute to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, May 2, 2013.Residents inspect damage after shelling that activists attribute to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, May 2, 2013.
    x
    Residents inspect damage after shelling that activists attribute to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, May 2, 2013.
    Residents inspect damage after shelling that activists attribute to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, May 2, 2013.
    But Hagel said he has not come to a conclusion on whether to recommend to the White House that it is time to start sending weapons to the rebels.  He said it is a decision that is receiving careful consideration.

    Hagel recently revealed that the U.S. believes, with various degrees of confidence, that Syria has used chemical weapons against its people.  He said U.S. officials are assessing the facts and consulting with allies.

    “You need the evidence if you're going to exercise certain options, a range of those options.  That evidence is particularly important,” Hagel said.

    Hagel spoke during a visit to the Pentagon by British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, who said his country will also need to do a thorough fact check before deciding on any action.  Hammond indicated Britain does not want to repeat past mistakes.


    x
    “U.K. public opinion remembers the evidence we were presented with in 2003 around Iraq, which turned out not to be valid.  There is a very strong view that we have to have very clear, very high quality evidence before we make plans and act on that evidence,” Hammond said.  

    The U.S. has repeatedly called for Mr. Assad to step down, saying its objectives are to stop violence, bring stability to the region, and transition Syria to a democracy.  

    U.S. leaders, however, have been hesitant to arm the rebels out of concern that weapons might end up in the hands of militants - a concern shared by Israel and other allies.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora