Trending Topics

Obama Decides to Send Arms to Syrian Rebels to Fight Assad

After concluding definitively that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against opposing rebels, the White House has decided to provide arms to the rebels, according to published reports.

The decision by the U.S. has elicited positive reaction from   allies in Europe, such as British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Syria reacted to the allegations by calling them “lies” that were based on “fabricated information.” Russia, a staunch ally of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, said the U.S. evidence “does not look convincing.”

“Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year,” the White House said in a statement. “Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete.”

The decision by the U.S. to provide arms to the Syrian rebel fighters is a huge step. Obama has been saying for months that he was reluctant to send weapons and ammunition to the rebels because he couldn’t be certain they wouldn’t wind up in the wrong hands.

​U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama had viewed the use of chemical weapons as a “red line” that would prompt greater U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict.

But Rhodes cautioned that the support would not extend to sending U.S. troops into Syria. Rhodes said no decision has been made on other military options, such as the enforcement of a no-fly zone.

Sarin gas is a man-made agent that was originally developed as a pesticide. It is  highly toxic, odorless, tasteless and colorless. It was used to deadly effect in a 1995 Tokyo subway attack and was also possibly used in the Iraq-Iran war. While it can be deadly, victims can recover from mild or moderate exposure.

“We do [share the U.S. judgment],” British PM Cameron told the Guardian. “I discussed this with President Obama on my recent visit. Our intelligence agencies have been sharing information. We share their view that, as we put it, growing levels of information about chemical weapons used by the regime, and no firm evidence that chemical weapons have been used by the opposition.

“I welcome this candid assessment by the Americans. I think it rightly puts back center stage the question, the very difficult question to answer but nonetheless one we have got to address: What are we going to do about the fact that in our world today there is a dictatorial and brutal leader who is using chemical weapons under our noses against his own people?” he said.

The U.S. assessment that limited attacks have taken place, based on CIA tests on blood, urine and hair samples from dead or wounded rebel fighters, is the first time Washington has supported claims made by British and French intelligence services in recent weeks. Assad has repeatedly denied using any chemical weapons in the bitter civil war.



What people are saying

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top