Photo: AP
Barack Obama. More aggressive leadership
Photo: AP

Report: Obama planning to arm rebels with lethal weapons

US officials tell Washington Post president preparing to send lethal arms to Syrian rebels, trying to convince Russia's Putin to withdraw his support of Assad. Meanwhile, former IDF chief Ashkenazi calls for international action in Syria

WASHINGTON – US President Obama is preparing to send lethal weaponry to the Syrian opposition and has taken steps to assert more aggressive US leadership among allies and partners seeking the ouster of President Bashar Assad, senior administration officials told the Washington Post Tuesday.


According to the report, Obama is likely to make a final decision on the supply of arms within weeks, before a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. Earlier Putin will meet with Secretary of State John Kerry.


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The officials stressed that the administration is still pursuing political negotiation and to that end, has launched an effort to convince Putin that the probable use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — and the more direct outside intervention that could provoke — should lead him to reconsider his support of Assad.


They did not specify what US equipment is under consideration, although the rebels have specifically requested ¬antitank weapons and surface-to-air missiles. 

העיר חלב שבסוריה, לאחר הפצצה (צילום: רויטרס)

City of Aleppo after bombing (Photo: Reuters)


In addition to possible military aid, the US is also considering imposing no-fly zones in rebel-controlled areas. However, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said Tuesday that imposing a no-fly zone would be risky and complex as it may drag the US into a war in Syria. 


On Tuesday, the US president said he wants more information about chemical weapons use in the Syrian civil war before he decides on escalating US military or diplomatic responses, despite earlier assertions that use of such weapons would be a "game-changer."



Gabi Ashkenazi talks to CNN's Christiane Amanpour


Meanwhile, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi urged international action in Syria in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "Doing nothing is definitely the wrong message," he said. He stressed that before any action "on the ground" can be undertaken it must be made clear that Assad is aware of the use of chemical weapons.


"In any case we need to do something, doing nothing is not an option," Ashkenazi said.

He recommended arming the rebels with lethal weapons and imposing a no-fly zone in at least part of Syria to help the opposition topple Assad.


Asked whether's Assad's fall would be good for Israel, the former IDF chief replied: "It's a mixed picture. Generally speaking, it would be good news on the one hand because it will break the radical axis of Iran-Damascus-Hamas. Hezbollah would be more restrained. Hezbollah's money comes from Iran but the rockets come from Syrian depots. Iran would lose its only state ally in the region, its gate to the Arab world."



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פרסום ראשון: 05.01.13, 09:33
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