World News

US: Syria's Assad Crossed 'Red Line' with Chemical Weapons

Officials say Washington is moving forward with a plan to provide arms to 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, including deadly sarin gas, on a small scale against Syrian rebels during the past year.

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

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday that London agrees with the U.S. assessment on chemical weapons use, and called for a "strong, determined" response from the international community.

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" and called on Syria to let the U.N. investigate the reports.

But Russia, Syria's ally, said the evidence provided by the U.S. "does not look convincing." Yuri Ushakov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also said the expanded U.S. military aid will hamper efforts to convene a Syria peace conference.

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



In his Thursday statement to reporters, Rhodes stressed that Mr. Obama views the use of chemical weapons as a "red line" that would prompt greater U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict. And he said the latest news has changed his "calculus."

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

The announcement follows a week of White House negotiations that have revealed a deep division among senior administration officials regarding the U.S. role in Syria's civil war.

The president has also come under increasing pressure from lawmakers and others, including former president Bill Clinton, to take more forceful action in Syria.

The debate took on an even greater sense of urgency on Thursday, after the United Nations announced it has confirmed that nearly 93,000 people have been killed in Syria over the last two years.

President 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.

Mr. Obama's Thursday decision comes after government forces dealt the opposition a series of demoralizing defeats in recent weeks, including the capture of the strategic town of Qusair and winning the support of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs