News / Middle East

White House to Discuss Arming Syrian Rebels

A Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover during clashes with Syrian Army in central Aleppo in this August 7, 2012 photo.
A Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover during clashes with Syrian Army in central Aleppo in this August 7, 2012 photo.
VOA News
U.S. officials say a series of urgent White House meetings this week could bring a decision on whether to arm Syrian opposition rebels.

Aides from the State and Defense Departments and other agencies have prepared the groundwork for a top-level meeting Wednesday between President Barack Obama and his national security staff. The meeting was made urgent by concerns that pro-government forces backed by Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia may be gaining the upper hand in the Syrian conflict.

A State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki says a "wider range of options" has been prepared for the president's consideration.

Syrian opposition leaders have warned the U.S. that their rebellion could face devastating losses without greater support.

As many as 5,000 Hezbollah fighters are now in Syria, helping the government pursue its military campaign after capturing the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border last week. Syrian forces apparently are now poised for an attack on the strategic city of Homs.

Although a decision has not been made, U.S. officials say Obama is learning toward sending weapons to moderate rebel units. The president already has ruled out any intervention that would require U.S. military forces inside Syria.

Other options, such as deploying American air power to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, while far less likely, are now being more seriously debated.

Any intervention essentially would pit the U.S. and regional allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar in a proxy war against Iran, the main arms provider for the Syrian government, and Hezbollah, which is increasingly supplying the manpower.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 11, 2013 11:26 AM
Is it the fear of a war with Iran or respect for Hezbollah that is keeping the US from taking a stand on this matter? While it is not right for the people to take over power by means of protests and riots, it is equally not right for Hezbollah to be part of the resolution of the conflict in Syria. Now that Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah have taken a position, it should be the right time to route it and remove once and for all time Iran's infiltration and stranglehold on the region by matching force with force.

Had Assad showed a distancing from these axis of terror and evil, the country would have been allowed to resolve its own problem its own way, but since he has drawn the curators of evil terror into it, the US should take a cue to once and for all time quash the evil that these duo access of terror and evil present by dealing them a blow from which recovery will be impossible. A no-fly-zone, Yes. But that should be prelude to an encampment of international force to take care of such uprising in the future that might give Hezbollah room to regroup. It should be such as will permanently silence not only Hezbollah but also Iran and its evil cohorts for ever.

by: Anonymous
June 11, 2013 9:24 AM
If the US does not want to arm the People of Syria to protect themselves from Bashar or to help hold Bashar responsible for his crimes, then they can at least go in and take him out. In any modern country Bashar would be facing war crimes in the Hague long long ago. If the West is not going to arm Syrian people or go in and take out Bashar, then they can at least push for the International Criminal Court to put a warrant out for Bashar, for the ruthless killing of many tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

Bashar has been dropping bombs in residential areas for years with no respect for any human life whatsoever. It is time that he pay the price for killing at least one percent of those he murdered. A hearing would easily find Bashar guilty of thousands of murders, destruction and genocide all across Syria. Sure some will say that opposition is guilty of some crimes, there's the odd bad apple in every barrel but we know Bashars name and the fact that he's already guilty of murders, we do not know the name of any opposition criminals or particular incidents and those responsible. Investigate them too if the world likes but we all know Bashar is the absolute source of the problem, a criminal against the New Syrian Nation.... The world would then truly find Bashar guilty of terrorism against the Nation of Syria, no different than his father did, like father like son.

Another interesting thing is that if the International Criminal Court did put out a warrant for him, then maybe some of these countries that support him would think twice about backing a war criminal guilty of murdering thousands. Anyone who backed him would be considered a terrorist as well. The world DOES NOT need people like Bashar, a terrorist calling all opposition terrorists and doing anything he can to kill all opposition he can. Thank God for these other countries soldiers coming to help the FSA, there would be so many more innocent people killed by Bashar if it wasn't for them even they have more balls to help the Syrian people than the West does.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 11, 2013 11:33 AM
Please don't send arms, these people cannot be trusted. If anything can be done, let the CIA do something about Assad as punishment for leaning on Iran and Hezbollah. The Opposition is terrorist in nature and there is no way the US support will not end up in the hands of al qaida or one other dangerous terrorist group, sunni or shia. They are both evil in their ramifications.

by: Joan Camara
June 11, 2013 4:52 AM
I just don't believe this. What kind of angels are these so called rebels? Surely there's not a muslim among them! I doubt our govt will learn not to feed the enemy, untill they turn those same arms against us. Nope, not even then I'm sure.

by: D Cody from: Tampa, FL
June 10, 2013 10:20 PM
The US should avoid any involvement in Syria. As bad as Assad is, he is still the devil that we do know and he is afraid of Israel. The various rebel groups cannot be trusted and their goal is not democracy.

by: JohnL
June 10, 2013 5:55 PM
It's nice to know that after all these years the White House is thinking about helping to arm the rebels. It took the Russians and Iranians about five minutes to decide to help their friends. Oh I forgot, they might use the bullets to shoot at Americans. Someday we will have a reasonably qualified president. That day is obviously not today. And I voted for him the first time around. Dumb me.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 11, 2013 11:38 AM
A muslim to fight against one of his own? You wish it was G. Bush era. Sorry Obama wants to leave office "clean". Who knows, he might want to live in one of those countries when he retires - Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon... you never can tell.
In Response

by: JohnL
June 10, 2013 11:03 PM
Going to war is not the same as giving bullets to someone who has a good reason to fight. Anyone who thinks they are the same obviously has never been in a real war.
In Response

by: Amin from: Texas
June 10, 2013 7:57 PM
How idiotic. Where is US national security imperiled? Are we just going to keep going to war because we don't like someone?

by: Ed Hemp from: Hempstead
June 10, 2013 3:36 PM
No! This American does not support any action on Syria. This is a local problem...not mine. Turkey and Israel should handle this with Nato. Let Europe clean up this mess.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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