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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Comments page of 2
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by: Buck Mast from: Tennessee
June 14, 2013 9:31 AM
Stupid,very,very stupid.Syria is nothing more than bloodthirsty Muslim terrorists at war with bloodthirsty Muslim terrorists.If we help the rebels ,then after the war they will turn on us like a rabid dog-have we learned nothing?


by: ali baba from: new york
June 14, 2013 9:27 AM
did the united state learn from their mistake. I do not think so. Us arm Libyan rebel and we had the American ambassador killed. if the rebel win .there will be a blood in every part of Syrian and establish another radical Islam regime is Kerry know what he is doing.?


by: Jon Phillips from: USA
June 14, 2013 9:23 AM
They have WMD's!!!

Where have I heard that before?

The USA, arming our future enemies since the 1950's.

In Response

by: nycityman from: New York, NY
June 14, 2013 10:04 AM
Obama needs to create a distraction from his own domestic troubles at this time. It will also give him a more "Presidential" look, (i.e. a more hawkish posture). The arms manufacturers will love him I'm sure. And in the end, if the "rebels" turn on us with the same weapons we gave them, then we will just have to go defend democracy.
War is not just big business, it's the business from which all else stems. We need to fight someone all the time, and it really doesn't matter who we are fighting as long as we are fighting someone.


by: Hatem Zaki from: Egypt
June 14, 2013 9:08 AM
I think U.S.A is take a very dangerous step in Syrian civil war .USA must pay attention and remember the Afghan lesson .the Extremists will reuse these weapons against Satan and his allies .the American citizen will be the victim as usual .whether soldier or civilian .so don't give them weapons generously or you will pay the price dearly


by: Paris Tun from: Burma
June 14, 2013 8:27 AM
Now, US have decided to arm the rebels. But when will the Assad's regime fall and when will the Syrians will be in the mode of "rebuilding Syria"? And will the Syrians get enough support, when they rebuild their country? Too many questions, huh? And I don't think that the most powerful man on earth, Obama will have the answer for those questions. Too bad for the women and children of Syria, huh?


by: Michael from: USA
June 14, 2013 7:37 AM
The National Security Advisor's comments cast a long shadow over the Syrian government. The public should expect news reports that describe how these new arms will prevent chemical weapon attacks. The administration is being fair by making its actions known


by: Sasanka Sekhar Singha
June 14, 2013 6:07 AM
U S intelligence found that Syrian government forces used by chemical weapons. Washington is moving a plan to provide arms the Syrian rebels.Deputy national security adviser said Damascus used chemical weapons------U S would provide weapons and ammumtion in the aid pakage to the rebels-------


by: Colin Wellstead from: Australia
June 14, 2013 6:06 AM
Where is the evidence ? Not allowed to tell us because of 'national security I guess - give me a break ! How much of this BS do they expect us to swallow ?

The usual suspects are lining up the ducks again as they did in Iraq and Syria - This latest 'evidence' has all the merit of the litany of lies that have preceded this nonsense. The sooner these Western psychopathic leaders are made to answer for their crimes against our society and the other communities they are destroying the better off humanity will be to be able to exist in peace.

In Response

by: Dave
June 14, 2013 9:27 AM
Colin,

French reporters brought back samples. It was in the news 2 weeks ago. The delivery method was a mortar. Maybe you should pay attention more.

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