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.
x
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.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
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.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs