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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid