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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs