News / Middle East

US Suspends Non-Lethal Aid for Syrian Rebels

A Syrian refugee carries bread and bottles of water during a winter storm in Zahle town, in the Bekaa Valley, Dec. 11, 2013.
A Syrian refugee carries bread and bottles of water during a winter storm in Zahle town, in the Bekaa Valley, Dec. 11, 2013.
The United States confirmed Wednesday that non-lethal aid to northern Syria has been suspended after Islamist fighters seized warehouses used by the Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebels.  

The White House and State Department made a point of emphasizing that humanitarian aid continues, though non-lethal assistance has been suspended.

Fighters from the Islamic Front, an umbrella group of six major rebel brigades, seized Free Syrian Army bases and weapons warehouses at a border crossing between Syria and Turkey.

Independent from the FSA, the front seeks to establish an Islamic state in Syria.

U.S. spokesmen said Washington is concerned about reports of the seizures, is "still gathering facts and consulting with General Idriss" and others on the rebel Supreme Military Council "to inventory the status of U.S. equipment and supplies."

White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest was asked if the suspension reflects a loss of faith in the ability of FSA rebels to fight without Islamic extremist interference or participation.

He said U.S. assistance is aimed at supporting moderate opposition elements, and responded this way when asked if the suspension weakens military opposition to  President Bashar al-Assad.

"What we are interested in doing is trying to coordinate and lift - coordinate with and lift up the moderate elements of the opposition. And that has been a challenge from the very beginning, both to identify the moderate elements of the opposition and to provide them the support that they need to try to bring about the kind of transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people. That has been a challenging proposition from the very beginning, and that continues to be challenging," said  Earnest.

Britain also suspended its nonlethal aid.  A Free Syrian Army official urged the U.S. and Britain to "re-think" the decision and wait until there is more clarity on the ground.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked how long the suspension might last.

"I wouldn't want to put a day on - or a date or a day on it. Obviously it's in our interests and the international community's interest to resume - to have the aid going through this area as soon as we can, but we want to evaluate the circumstances on the ground and make a decision," said Psaki.

Psaki and Earnest said humanitarian assistance distributed through international and nongovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, is not affected.

Asked for clarification later, a White House official referred this reporter to the State Department "for further details on the area impacted by the suspension."

Speaking with VOA's Senate correspondent on Capitol Hill, Republican Senator John McCain voiced his concern.

"It's a recognition of the reality that parts of the northern Syrian border have been taken over by the al-Nusra and other extremist Islamist groups directly attribute to [directly as a result of] our failure to help people who are the moderates, the Free Syrian Army, led by General Idriss.  Our failure to help them while 5,000 Hezbollah came in, while plane loads of arms came in from Russia, while [Iran's] Revolutionary Guard is on the ground, and we have failed," said McCain.

McCain said external assistance has allowed Syrian President Assad to regain momentum on the ground from rebel forces.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hassan Hussein from: Iran
December 12, 2013 1:55 AM
Iran and Hezbollah are terrorists that invaded Syria and are killing civilians. Iranian pilots were captured after their jets were shot down by rebels. America needs to destroy Iran completely and everything will be okay.

by: Anonymous
December 11, 2013 10:55 PM
It's only "Suspended" but will likely continue in another location or at another date very soon.

by: ali baba from: new york
December 11, 2013 8:06 PM
the fact is Bashar el Assad is less evil than the rebel. American made a poor judgment when they supported Osama bin laden group in Syria,\. American made a poor judgment decision when they supported Muslim brotherhood in Egypt. . American made a poor judgment when they supported Libya. . .I believe the current Democratic policy makers are not good to understand the Middle east mentality. they should consult Gorge W bush team to give them a word of advise of how they can take the right decision with Arab
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 11, 2013 10:53 PM
Nah, the fact is bashar al assad thugs commited heinous crimes in Syria , something he has 101% full control over. These thugs are protecting bashar al assad from prosecution by Syrians for the deaths of thousands. The top terrorist that terrrorized the most people and killed the most civilians is None Other than Bashar al Assad of Syria.

He has already lost the war by commiting such horrific crimes of such large scale (NOT INCLUDING CHEMICALS), now it is a matter of the international community going after him and holding him accountable for his crimes.

by: Walid from: Saudi Arabia
December 11, 2013 3:22 PM
really, oh what a shame... so the US wants the Muslim Brotherhood back in power in Egypt... and the Iranian Hezbullah in Syria... hey America, you have stopped being responsible under the occupation of Obama, and now you are becoming reckless and destructive... do you even know what is it you are doing...?? your incompetency is just breathtaking... or should i say Obama's incompetency is stunning...??
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 11, 2013 8:12 PM
Let me remind you that Saudi Arabia is the country of double standard. what they in public is different from what they say in the dark. 19 hijackers from Saudi Arabia. Saudi produce Osama bin laden. Saudi support all terrorism group in secret. who is going to trust Saudi

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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.

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