News / Middle East

White House: Israel Has Right to Self-Defense

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, May 6, 2013.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, May 6, 2013.
The White House on Monday declined to comment directly on reported Israeli air strikes in Syria.  But President Barack Obama's spokesman said Israel is right to be concerned about movements of weapons to Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group.  

Monday's White House news briefing was the first since air strikes over the weekend believed to have been carried out by Israel to prevent advanced weapons from being transferred to Hezbollah militants.

Though Israel took the step of clarifying it was not involving itself in Syria's civil war, the attacks brought a warning from the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which called them a declaration of war.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney referred reporters to the Israeli government for any comment on the attacks, but said Israel is right to be concerned about sophisticated weapons going to Hezbollah.

"The transfer of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah is certainly a concern and a threat to Israel and they have the right to act in their own sovereign interest in response to those concerns," said Carney.

Carney declined to say if the United States knew in advance that air strikes would occur, adding that the U.S. remains in close coordination generally with Israel.

Asked about the potential for a wider regional war, he reiterated concerns about the spread of violence, saying this makes achieving a political transition in Syria even more important.

The White House spokesman was also pressed again about President Obama's statements that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a "red line" for him, forcing as yet unspecified action.

A New York Times report Sunday said some White House aides were concerned Obama first used the term inadvertently last year.  

Calling Obama's use of the term "deliberate," Carney emphasized that Obama has an "array of options" before him if evidence proves the case that chemical weapons have been used.

"As the investigation continues and as we have said all along, he is looking at a range of options and he is not removing any option from the table, if you will, and he will take action that he thinks is in the interests of the United States and our national security, as well as in the interest of the Syrian people," he said.

President Obama has come under criticism from some Republican lawmakers, notably Arizona Senator John McCain, who accused Obama of failing to act on evidence in hand so far of chemical weapons use.

Carney "strongly disputed" McCain's remarks, and underscored the importance of having all the facts and "corroborated evidence" before policy decisions are made.

President Obama said over the weekend that he does not envision U.S. ground forces going to Syria.  White House officials continue to emphasize increased non-lethal assistance to Syria's opposition.

Officials also continue to say that the U.S. believes that the Assad government, and not Syrian rebels, would likely be behind any use of chemical weapons.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs