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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid