News / Middle East

Obama Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels

In this March 11, 2012 photo, a man carries a boy who was severely wounded during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian Army forces in Idlib, north Syria.
In this March 11, 2012 photo, a man carries a boy who was severely wounded during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian Army forces in Idlib, north Syria.
VOA News
Officials say the United States is proceeding with a plan to arm Syrian rebels, a move that prompted a positive early reaction from U.S. allies in Europe.

The decision came after White House officials said an intelligence report found conclusive evidence that Damascus used chemical weapons on a small scale, including deadly sarin gas, against Syrian rebels during the past year.

On Friday, Syria dismissed as "lies" the U.S. claims it had used chemical weapons against the rebels.  Syria's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. accusation was based on "fabricated information."

In this March 19, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village is treated.In this March 19, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village is treated.
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In this March 19, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village is treated.
In this March 19, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village is treated.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday that London agrees with the U.S. assessment on chemical weapons use.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also welcomed what he called the "clear U.S. statement."  He said the use of chemical weapons is "completely unacceptable."

Russia, Syria's ally, said the evidence provided by the U.S. "does not look convincing."

U.S. intelligence officials have been saying for months they suspect Syria's government has used chemical weapons.  But Mr. Obama had said he needed to see firm evidence before deciding on his next move.  The U.S. has so far provided only non-lethal aid to the rebels.



What is Sarin?
  • Man-made nerve agent originally developed as a pesticide
  • Possibly used during Iraq-Iran war
  • Used in 1995 Tokyo subway attack
  • Highly toxic, odorless, tasteless, colorless liquid
  • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption
  • People can recover with treatment from mild or moderate exposure

On Thursday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said President Obama decided to authorize direct military support to the opposition.  U.S. officials later acknowledged this support would include weapons and ammunition.

Rhodes also stressed Obama views the use of chemical weapons as a "red line" that would prompt greater U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict.

But he cautioned the White House still does not support sending U.S. troops to Syria, and that no decision has been made on other military options, such as the enforcement of a no-fly zone.

Obama has been reluctant to arm the Syrian rebels, out of concern the weapons may end up in the hands of Islamic extremists that make up a growing part of the opposition forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

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by: JMC from: US
June 17, 2013 10:30 AM
Given our past record of aiding rebels in other countries, only to find out when they took over their respective governments that they were worse than the regimes they displaced, I would say we don't have any business involving ourselves in an internal Syrian matter. If they really are using chemical weapons, then I propose to let the UN step in; that's what they're supposed to be there for. Or are they too busy shoving contraception and abortion down everyone's throats?


by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
June 14, 2013 3:23 PM
President Obama,

Return the Nobel Prize, Please ! ... and my two -- 2008 & 2012 -- votes for you too.

I should not have voted for you in 2012 after you betrayed those calling for a Public Option health insurance plan if not a Single Payer system.


by: Basia Babs from: andover, CT
June 14, 2013 1:10 PM
why oh why do all of these sad responses to such a grave situation in the middle east - end up - on trying to dump on Obama and the democrats and america, blah blah blah - why of why are all of you so clueless


by: Bill Bledsoe from: Spartanburg, SC
June 14, 2013 1:08 PM
Obama has chosen political suicide. Both Panetta and Dempsey testified before congress that the Syrian Rebels were Al Qaeda.

Arming Al Qaeda is an impeachable offense, and is treason under the US constitution. The republican house will not ignore Obama's new crime. Obama is already under impeachment for ordering the murder of US Citizens.

In his speech to the National Defense University on May 23, 2013, Obama admitted that he ordered the murder of 6 Americans.

If you or I, or any other American, admitted to giving the orders to car bomb another American, and we killed 5 others in the school bus next to it, we would get the electric chair in a skinny minute.

Obama admitted he gave the orders. Obama said, “And as president, I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took him out.”

Obama authorized the strikes that “took out:”

1) 26 year old Marine Staff Sergeant Jeremy Smith
2) 23 year old Navy Hospitalman Benjamin D. Rast
3) 16 year old Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki from Denver, Colorado
4) 20 year old Jude Kenan Mohammad from Florida and North Carolina
5) 25 year old Samir Khan from North Carolina and New York City
6) 40 year old Anwar Al-Awlaki from New Mexico and Colorado

Sergeant Smith’s father viewed the video of his son’s murder and was stunned, he said, “You couldn't even tell they were human beings, just blobs.”


by: Jonthan Huang from: canada
June 14, 2013 10:26 AM
Does it sound familiar to you? WMD in Iraq and now Chemical weapon in Syria. Do you ever feel shame of yourself, American? When you accuse China of Cyber attacking now Mr Snowdon reveals that it is US doing Cyber attack against China!
Big fat liar!


by: Lost trust in Obama from: nowhere now
June 14, 2013 10:20 AM
I voted for Obama and now I regret it. I don't believe in arming anyone for fighting. Why is this any different than the Iran Contra? I only see that it went public and approved instead of hiding everything like Reagan did.


by: CorrEngCon from: VA
June 14, 2013 10:13 AM
This is one of the most glaring examples how far our government has strayed from the constitution. We are not the world's guardians. Furthermore, the irony of arming Muslim rebels while effectively disarming the American people is disheartening and worrisome.
Perhaps we should address our countries' internal wars first. Employment, poverty, hunger, homelessness, drugs, immigration, mental health, health care, etc. Why is our government using world issues to distract our people from these wars being waged on our own soil? More importantly, why does the American people continue to tolerate this portrayal of democratic government? As long as we allow the governwolf to lead the sheeple, they will be led to slaughter. Too bad our society does not have the courage or fortitude that our founding fathers did.

In Response

by: ANDREW TESLICKO from: Milford, PA
June 14, 2013 1:05 PM
A government not by, of, and for, the people cannot be a consitiutional government. A government violating a constitutional ammendment - whose servants have sworn to uphold and protect cannot be a constiutional government. A government swayed by a military industrial shadow lobby cannot be a constiutional government. A government that is not constitutional is a government that voids itself from the governed.


by: john s. from: usa
June 14, 2013 9:52 AM
Sadly, no winners here. Assad is a tyrant and a criminal towards his own people and the rebels are a combination of factions including Al Qaeda. Final result,,, we will be arming Al Qaeda ... when they attain their goal of defeating Assad they will turn and use our suply of arms against us...... The Middle East is a snake pit with never ending religious sectarian conflicts. Democracy may never be attained in that region of the world. All we have to look at are the results of the so called "Arab spring"..


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 14, 2013 9:49 AM
Good. So what next? Send arms to rebels? No. That's a no-go area. For it will simply mean arming the fundamentalist, extremist and fanatical haters of civilization and Israel with the best lethal weapons. First, the weapons will start exploding in Israel before they even land in Alepo. Instead America should send some special forcesl - commando unit if you like - to help clean up the Hezbollah fighters. A no-fly-zone is good and welcome to ensure that neither Hezbollah nor Assad continues to kill the people with impunity. The hesitation to send American troops to the region is encouraged by the lack of education of the American populace as to the duties and fates of soldiers.

Someone should please inform mothers, girlfriends and all that, that soldiering includes and involves injuries which can be fatal at times. While we know that some sign up to it for job purposes, it is important to properly spell out its extremes to them and their relatives so that mothers will stop carrying placards into streets when a soldier becomes casualty of war. And it is important to note that if you do not take the war to them, they will take it to you. Please Mr. President, send the soldiers and stop shying away from it. It's even better now you're not just saying American troops out there is a rule out. Please shift a little further and we'll get there. SEND THE TROOPS TO SAVE SYRIAN PEOPLES.


by: Jon Phillips from: USA
June 14, 2013 9:35 AM
Dear rest of the world:
I'm sorry to say that we (citizens of the USA) can't do anything to stop any of this. We have not had anything to do with our foreign policy since WW2. What, where, when & why is decided by the heads of our military industrial complex & multinational corporations.

Please do not come here and blow us up, we have nothing to do with anything going on in the middle east. Most of us would like to build a 30ft wall around our country and leave all of you alone....... But the powers that be have decided that the US military is now the worlds police, and we can do nothing about it.

We voted for Obama because we thought it meant "change" all we got was the most secretive, privacy obliterating, nanny state federal government we have ever seen.
The best part is, all of this "security" hasn't stopped anything, 2 guys in their 20's just defeated our multi trillion dollar dept. of homeland security with a couple of pressure cookers they bought at Wal-Mart
I can't go on the internet or make a phone call without some NSA database getting updated, but hey it's for "our own good".

I'm sorry to report that the future for the rest of the world is not looking so good, if the land of the free & the home of the brave is turning into the land of state secrets & preemptive strikes that doesn't bode well for the rest of tyou.

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