White House press secretary Jay Carney discussed the US' caution Friday, in saying: “We have had to be very careful. We don't want any weapons to fall into the wrong hands and potentially further endanger the Syrian people, our ally Israel or the United States. We also need to make sure that any support we are providing actually makes a difference in pressuring Assad.”
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The issue of weapon supply to Syria has come up following a New York Times report by which a plan was developed last summer by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus to arm and train Syrian rebels.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was said by some officials to be sympathetic to the idea, the paper reported, and Panetta himself confirmed in a Senate meeting Thursday that he and US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey have supported the plan to send arms to the Syrian rebels.
Though many in the defense establishment were in support of the plan, the White House decided against it. Carney refused to address “internal deliberations about policy decisions of that nature," but noted that there was “no shortage of weapons in (Syria).
"That’s why we’ve focused our efforts on helping the opposition to become stronger, more cohesive and more organized," the press secretary said.
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