News / Middle East

World Reacts to US Plan to Arm Syrian Rebels

President Barack Obama arrives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, June 14, 2013.
President Barack Obama arrives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, June 14, 2013.
VOA News
Amid international support and criticism, the United States is proceeding with a plan to arm Syrian rebels after finding what officials say is evidence the Syrian government has used chemical weapons during the nation's civil war.

The White House has reiterated President Barack Obama's view that chemical weapons, including nerve gas, crosses a "red line" and necessitates more U.S. involvement in the war.

The two-year conflict has cost Syria more than 90,000 lives, though U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday there are indications the actual death toll could be "well above that."

U.S. allies in Europe have so far reacted supportively to the chemical weapons assessment.

But Syria's Foreign Ministry said Friday the U.S. accusation - stemming from an intelligence report -  was based on "fabricated information" and dismissed the claim as "lies."

Syrian ally Russia also rejected the assessment.  Officials in Moscow said the information Washington provided does not look convincing.

The chairman of Russia's parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Alexey Pushkov, accused Washington of making up the data. He likened the findings on Syria to the United States' faulty assertion about Iraq -  the Bush administration's unproven claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Pushkov said there is no reason for the Assad government to use sarin gas against the rebels, saying it "makes no sense."

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday that London agrees with the U.S. assessment on Syria's chemical weapons use.

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."

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

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

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

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.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs