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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.