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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora