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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
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 Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
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 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.

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