News / Middle East

Pentagon Weighs Type of Arms to Give Syrian Rebels

Pentagon Weighs Type of Arms to Give Syrian Rebelsi
June 14, 2013 7:24 PM
Following the White House announcement that the United States will provide lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the Pentagon is recommending options on what weapons to provide and to whom. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Pentagon Weighs Type of Arms to Give Syrian Rebels
Luis Ramirez
Following the White House announcement that the United States will provide lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the Pentagon is recommending options on what weapons to provide and to whom.

They are options that Pentagon planners have been working on for almost as long as the conflict in Syria. With Assad's forces gaining ground and confirmation they have used chemical weapons, the U.S. government says it is now time to act.

The announcement came from Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in a conference call to reporters saying the U.S. will increase support to the moderate Supreme Military Council.    

"The president has taken the decision to provide that type of direct support to the SMC that has military purposes. And we're looking at a wide range of types of support we can provide both to the political opposition and to the SMC on the ground," said Rhodes.

The Pentagon is not discussing details of what new aid it is recommending. Reports say it could include small arms and ammunition.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made clear last month that the U.S. must tread carefully and not take any action that could make the conflict worse.

“To de-escalate, to find some common ground to assure that Syria doesn't disintegrate, and the Middle East erupt into a regional war, we continue to obviously keep every option open and what further action we may take,” said Hagel.

The U.S. has been consulting with regional partners such as Jordan, Turkey, and Israel, all of which fear further destabilization if weapons end up with extremist groups like Hezbollah or al-Qaida.

Analyst Chris Doyle in London thinks arming the rebels is risky.

"It's likely to induce an arms race, an arms race where Russia and Iran supply ever more weapons, Hezbollah gets ever more active. But also, those parties within the region who are supporting various elements of the Syrian opposition may also escalate the arming of their particular groups, their proxies, to ensure that they are not cut out of any final political solution within Syria," said Doyle.

U.S. officials indicate a no-fly zone is not a preferred option. Syria's air defenses are strong, and enforcing such a measure would require a large and costly commitment - including the possibility of sending troops - something the White House reportedly has ruled out.

The aid is likely to fall short of the anti-tank weapons, airstrikes, and other more aggressive responses that Syrian rebels and some within the U.S. government have been urging.
For U.S. leaders, the concern is that even sending small amounts of weaponry could mean a long-term involvement in yet another Middle East conflict.

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Comment Sorting
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 15, 2013 10:34 AM
The US announcement that military hardware will be supplied by the US to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is just a ploy to force the Russians , Assad and the FSA to attend the US sponsored conference. It is too late and too little to supply arms to the FSA because they are almost decimated by the Assad forces. What the FSA is requesting from the US is anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns and missiles, but the US is still reluctant to supply such lethal weapons. The US has no intention to enforce any no-fly zone in Iraq. There is no need for a red line of chemical weapon use by Assad regime. That was a ploy for President Obama not to have a military intervention in Syria. Syrians have suffered enough with or without chemical weapon use. All this President Obama's tactic is not to interfere militarily in Syria and to keep his precious undeserved Nobel Peace Prize untainted.

by: John from: Accra
June 15, 2013 7:48 AM
Down the drain where George Bush Jnr. and Tony Blair went and ended up destroying Iraq and many lives.

by: Morhat
June 14, 2013 6:50 PM
So far 100,000 people have been killed in Syria, which 8000 Children under 10 years. Whole families and babies were tortured by Assad militias and brutally murdered.
The atrocities that the Assad regime perpetrated against its own people is unimaginable. 500 air strikes alone in May. Assad let bomb schools Hospitals and civilians daily. On video sharing sites such as Youtube or Liveleak one finds numerous Videos of screaming people, including many children with terrible wounds or amputated limbs. The Assad regime is ruthless and does not distinguish between rebels and civilians. Human lives count
for nothing! Everything is destroyed and obliterated. Its air force, artillery and tanks destroy entire cities. Syria is already so damaged that it will take decades, to build country. A whole generation is traumatized. Hundreds of thousands of refugees
seek shelter in neighboring countries. There are daily more and more, are now the adjacent Countries with refugee flows overwhelmed. The stablety the entire region is at risk.
A diplomatic solution with Assad in power is impossible. He wants to stay in power at any price. Give the rebels the weapons they need, including anti tank and anti air manpads.
Establish a no fly zone over parts of Syria as soon as possible. Our civilization has in 2013 the moral and duty to protect innocent people. To help other people in danger should
be the first duty of every man. Mass Murders must be stopped! All nations which accept human
rights have the responsibility to protect.

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
June 14, 2013 6:17 PM
Start with small munitions and then in go the American troops.
The huge U.S. and Nato militaries, currently not earning their pay and on the verge of being cut back in funding and size, are about to swing into murderous action in Syria -- temporarily making heroes of leaders like Obama, the UK’s Cameron and France’s Hollande who desperately need to prevent ordinary citizens from thinking about other things like the weak Western division of global economy and Climate Change.

by: Homer from: Buffalo
June 14, 2013 5:09 PM
Great take our weapons and give them to people in another country who hate us....

by: Ron L from: New Orleans
June 14, 2013 4:54 PM
Yet another quagmire. Yet another effort at destabilizing a nation and supplying aid and comfort to al Qaeda and other various enemies. More money, that the American taxpayer does not have, poured into a conflict that has no end in sight.

Why is the US government insisting on supported al Qaeda in Syria? Why is the US government either massaging or outright lying about reports that chemical weapons have been used in Syria...but by the Al Nusra terrorists? Why is the US government supporting Wahhabi and Salafist terrorists over the relatively reasoned, reasonable and pragmatic Syrian leadership which has maintained peace on their borders for DECADES?

Who stands to gain from this other than the warmongers like McCain and the other do-nothings in Congress? This is NOT our fight. Stay OUT of it. Mind your own business for once! It's NOT our affair.

by: ConcernedCitizen from: NC
June 14, 2013 4:46 PM
I am wondering just how an essentially bankrupt nation can afford to borrow money from the Fed Res then spend it at untaxed multinational conglomerates buy arms, and then stick the American Working class with the bill, and then have the gall to suggest it is for their protection and liberty.

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