News / Middle East

US Weighs Arming Syrian Opposition

U.S. President Barack Obama during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 30, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 30, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly is considering supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, a move the United States has resisted because of fears the arms could end up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants fighting alongside rebel forces.

Senior White House officials say the president has not yet made a decision, but has asked his national security team to identify ways the United States can increase its assistance.  So far, that aid has been limited to non-lethal support.

In Syria Wednesday, activists reported several rockets fell on a Damascus neighborhood, a day after a wave of insurgency-related violence hit the Syrian capital and a northern border crossing into Turkey.

It is not clear what U.S. equipment is under consideration for the Syrian rebels, who have requested antitank weapons and surface-to-air missiles.

Suppling weapons would bring the U.S. in line with Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are already arming the rebels, and with Britain and France, which want to lift an EU arms embargo on Syria to aid insurgents seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

While U.S. aid for the opposition "has been on an upward trajectory," officials say efforts are still being explored to achieve a political solution to the Syrian crisis, which has stretched on for more than two years.


  • Rebel fighters of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) talk in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, May 9, 2013.
  • A view shows damaged buildings and debris in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, May 9, 2013.
  • Syrian children play near a water distribution point in the Almyassar central district of Aleppo, May 8, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter stands behind a pile of sandbags in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to head toward the front line in the al-Ziyabiya area, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • An armored vehicle is seen parked as Free Syrian Army fighters gather on a street in the refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows smoke and fire filling the the skyline after an Israeli airstrike, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows damaged buildings wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • This image provided by ENN shows a protester with a sign reading "If America does not know who used the chemical weapons, so it could be flying saucers from another planet," Sarmada, Idlib, Syria, May 3, 2013.
  • A man reacts after his grandson was injured during what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013. 
  • Residents inspect a damaged building that was shelled by forces activists say were loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visiting the Umayyad Electrical Station, Damascus, Syria, May 1, 2013.

President Obama said Tuesday he needs more facts about chemical weapons use in Syria before committing to stronger action against Assad's government.

Obama has called the use of chemical weapons in Syria a "game changer," but refused to give details on what options he would consider.

In a letter to the U.S. president Tuesday, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army complained that "Assad is not taking your carefully phrased condemnations as warnings, but as loopholes," which justify the continued "small-scale" use of chemical weapons.

General Salim Idriss underlined his plea for U.S. military assistance, saying the FSA under his command has "neither the training nor the equipment to counter the effects of Assad's chemical weapons or to destroy them."  

He also said weapons of mass destruction would "not be welcome" in a "future, free Syria."

Last week, the White House told lawmakers it believes "with varying degrees of confidence" that the Assad government has used sarin gas against rebels.  Britain and France have asserted that such evidence exists.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Syria to allow an immediate and unconditional investigation into the allegations.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari denied his government has used chemical weapons, instead accusing rebels of using them.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 01, 2013 3:46 PM
Qur'an:8:7 "Allah wished to confirm the truth by His words: 'Wipe the infidels out to the last.'"
Qur'an:8:39 "So, fight them till all opposition ends and the only religion is Islam."
Qur'an:8:59 "The infidels should not think that they can get away from us. Prepare against them whatever arms and weaponry you can muster so that you may terrorize them. They are your enemy and Allah's enemy."


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
May 01, 2013 1:02 PM
The murderous civil war in Syria needs to be brought to an end. The casualty rates (death+injured) are increasing at an exponential rate; the UN and NGO are overwhelmed and can no longer cope with their humanitarian activities, same applies to neighbouring countries with large numbers of Syrian refugees. Everyday more and more extremists are showing up on both sides, including the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The fact that chem weapons have been used, it is not material as to which side used them, just shows that the conflict has entered a new level of depravity. Peace negotiations have failed, Assad and his chronies refuse to step down. It is clear that the Sunni majority is the underdogs, and they are taking most of the civilian casualties in the conflict, at the hands of a heavily armed dictatorship and their minority supporters. The dictatorship has been using large weapons in civilian areas, causing huge massacres through the use of scuds, artillery bombardments, and aerial bombardments; they have very much turned into rubble most of the Sunni cities/villages and neighborhoods. Very remenicent of what occured to the Sunni neighborhoods in Lebanon, at the hands of Hezbollah and also with the previous Assad support. Providing defensive weapons, is a high risk strategy unless it is well controlled, but even under the highest controls the risk can't be reduced to zero. The biggest problem, related to the use/ transfer out of Syria/ transport/ vanishment, will remain to be resolved, and that is the chem/bio weapon facilities/stockpiles/local ready use munitions lockups/ and their delivery systems. Foreign power "boots on the ground", in a civil war, is rarely a successful strategy. The realistic option is the gradual degradation of the biggest and most powerful force in Syria, Assad and his chronies, so that humanitarian areas/corridors are created to save the Sunni muslim population, and continue the degradation until they are forced to reach a negotiated settlement. Like the Western intervention model in the Balkan civil wars. Followed by a UN peace making/keeping international force; and the cantonment and destruction of all large weapons, including WMD; and the disarmament and repatriation of all foreign combatants out of Syria; creation of an interim Syrian federative state, to ensure that inter-ethnic revenges do not take place.


by: NVO from: USA
May 01, 2013 10:14 AM
The administration has already sent well over half a billion dollars in aid to such groups, while the CIA has overseen “a secret airlift of arms and equipment” to rebels since early 2012, according to the New York Times.

The very insurgents who Obama now plans to arm with lethal weaponry have openly espoused their radical anti-American agenda as they ransack Christian churches, burn US flags, chant anti-American slogans and sing the praises of Osama Bin Laden while glorifying the 9/11 attacks.

The same rebels set to receive weapons courtesy of US taxpayers have also made clear their intention to fly the Al-Qaeda flag over the White House.

In arming Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, Obama is clearly committing an impeachable offense by empowering America’s enemies, repeating the process that unfolded in Libya, where the arming of jihadists in the effort to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi led to the attack on the US consulate carried out by some of the very same NATO-backed insurgents.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid