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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More