News / Middle East

Reaction Mixed to US Move on Syria

Reaction Mixed to US Move on Syriai
X
June 14, 2013 6:14 PM
Reaction to the U.S. decision to increase its military aid to the Syrian rebels broke along predictable lines Friday, with U.S. allies supportive and Syria and its allies, including Russia, critical. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Al Pessin
Reaction to the U.S. decision to arm the Syrian rebels broke along predictable lines Friday, with U.S. allies supportive and Syria and its allies, including Russia, critical.

The fighting has raged in Syria for two years, and the United Nations says more than 93,000 people have been killed.  But the deaths of about 100 of them have changed the strategic situation.

The U.S. government announced Thursday that it has concluded those people died from chemical weapons used by Syrian government forces - crossing a “red line” President Barack Obama set several months ago. It said it would provide more support to the opposition, including military aid.

Syria denied using chemical weapons, and in Brussels, the NATO secretary general called on the Assad regime to prove it. “I welcome the clear U.S. statement. It is urgent that the Syrian regime should grant access to the United Nations to investigate all the reports of chemical weapon use," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The United States had been reluctant to arm the rebels, concerned about fueling sectarian tensions and having Western weapons fall into the hands of militants.  But the alleged use of chemical weapons has changed that calculation.  

Khalid Saleh, a spokesman for the Syrian rebels, welcomed the change.

"I think having those weapons will truly change the balance of power. It will enable the Syrian opposition, represented by the Syrian coalition, to think seriously about going to Geneva II,” Saleh said.

That is the peace conference the United States and Russia are trying to organize.

Analyst Chris Doyle, at the Center for Arab British Understanding, says that is the real goal of increasing military aid for the rebels after recent battlefield gains by the government.

“If they want to have a viable political process, then they need to get all the parties around the table at Geneva, without the sense that the regime is victorious,” Doyle said.

But on Friday, Russian officials were angered by the U.S. move.
 
The chairman of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, said the United States has “no real evidence” of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government.  He also accused the rebels of using such weapons “often.”

Key European leaders have long advocated arming the Syrian rebels, and they will likely join President Obama in pressing Russian President Vladimir Putin starting Monday, when he makes his first return to a G8 summit since regaining his post last year.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs