News / USA

    White House Working to Address Lawmakers' Worries on Syria Aid

    A general view shows damaged buildings on a deserted street in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, July 12, 2013.
    A general view shows damaged buildings on a deserted street in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, July 12, 2013.
    The White House says it continues to work to address concerns U.S. lawmakers have about President Barack Obama's decision announced in June to send lethal aid to Syrian rebel forces.  

    Worries in Congress about Obama's plan to send lethal aid, reportedly small arms and ammunition, to the Free Syrian Army emerged in reports by The Washington Post and other media.

    The White House announced the aid decision after the U.S. determined the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition on several occasions last year.

    Publicly, officials avoid speaking in detail about congressional concerns. Comments are limited to observations about the importance of supporting rebels who are facing the Assad regime and its allies, Hezbollah and Iran.

    Press secretary Jay Carney said the administration continues to work with Congress to address concerns.  

    He declined to discuss specifics regarding aid shipments or timelines, but appeared to provide some indication of the message the administration is likely communicating to Capitol Hill.

    "We have with our allies and partners worked to strengthen the elements of the Syrian opposition that have in our view the best interests of the Syrian people in mind, and of the future of Syria, and we continue to work with those elements," said Carney.

    On Thursday, the Syrian Opposition Coalition expressed deep concern that "elements in the U.S. Congress" are delaying new support to the Free Syrian Army.

    A statement attempted to address U.S. congressional concerns about weapons falling into the wrong hands, saying the coalition would ensure that "arms will not reach extremist elements."

    In June, the president's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, voiced confidence about the ability to efficiently channel aid, and prevent it from reaching extremists.

    "It has been important to work through them while aiming to isolate some of the more extremist elements of the opposition, such as al-Nusra," he said. "We now have those relationships. We now have that pipeline flowing. We've seen material get into Syria, including to the SMC [opposition Supreme Military Council]."

    Moderates versus radicals

    Michael Rubin, of the American Enterprise Institute, said, "Even if we are able to separate the wheat from the chaff, when it comes to determining who is moderate versus who is radical, number one, today’s moderates may be tomorrow’s radicals, or number two, the radicals might simply move in and take the arms from the moderates to whom we give them.”

    In its reporting, The Washington Post said Obama's lethal aid plan drew objections from members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, which review covert operations.

    In a stinging criticism of Obama, The Post editorial board said U.S. allies are "baffled and alarmed" by the president's "fecklessness on Syria," and now his failure "to deliver even on the modest action he decided on."

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.