News / Middle East

    White House: Obama Decides to Send Military Support to Syrian Rebels

    Citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows members of the free Syrian Army preparing their weapons, April 25, 2013.
    Citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows members of the free Syrian Army preparing their weapons, April 25, 2013.
    The White House has announced a new definitive assessment that says chemical weapons have been used on a small scale by the Assad regime in Syria. President Barack Obama has made a decision to provide new assistance, including unspecified military aid, to the Syrian opposition forces.

    Following what it calls a deliberative review, the White House says chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used on a small scale multiple times against opposition forces in the last year.

    A statement says the intelligence community attaches a high confidence level to this assessment based on “multiple, independent streams of information."

    It says an estimated 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date, but stresses that the casualty data is likely incomplete.

    The White House provided details of the assessment to Congress, and shared information with key allies, the United Nations and Russia.

    Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said President Obama's "red line" has been crossed.

    Rhodes, however, made clear this does not mean any U.S. boots on the ground, but does mean new direct support to the Syrian Opposition Council and the rebel Supreme Military Council.

    “This is going to be different in both scope and scale in terms of what we are providing to the SMC, than what we have provided before.  So, the president has made a decision, in part because of the assessed use of chemical weapons, to provide additional types of support to the SMC, which I cannot inventory for you but which will be aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the SMC on the ground,”Rhodes said.

    Rhodes said this new aid will be in cooperation with other countries in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and in consultation with Britain and France.

    At the United Nations, Britain's ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, who also is president of the Security Council, said the U.S. announcement came as no surprise.

    “Speaking in my national capacity, we are not surprised by the determination made by the U.S. government.  As you know, we have said for some time we believe that there is persuasive evidence of use by the Syrian regime of chemical weapons in Syria.  In terms of the implications of that, we are in consultations with the U.S. government and other allies about the next steps in Syria,” Grant said.

    White House official Ben Rhodes said there has been no decision to pursue a no-fly-zone, although contingency plans have been drawn up.  This, he said, would carry with it “great and open-ended costs” for the U.S. and international community.

    Going forward, Rhodes said the U.S. will continue to consult with Syria's opposition and allies and partners about steps that have the best potential of having a positive impact on the ground.

    Rhodes said the U.S. still believes a political settlement is the preferable outcome in Syria, and that the Geneva process provides a “template” for that.  Talks would have to involve the opposition and Assad regime, although he noted that Russia still has not agreed to the need for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

    Asked specifically how Syria's opposition needs to be improved, Rhodes listed its effectiveness as a fighting force and its cohesion, and ongoing needs for communication equipment and medical supplies.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Mollie King
    June 13, 2013 9:42 AM
    This is just heartbreaking!
         

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora