“Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of” — New York Times, April 28, 2013
Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda — USA Today, April 11, 2013
More weapons for the warriors of jihad who will prove to be inveterate enemies of the U.S.
“Obama steps up military aid to Syrian rebels,” by Julie Pace and Lolita C. Baldor for the Associated Press, June 14:
WASHINGTON (AP) “” President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize lethal aid to Syrian rebels marks a deepening of U.S. involvement in the two-year civil war. But U.S. officials are still grappling with what type and how much weaponry to send the opposition forces and how to ensure it stays out of the hands of extremists battling for control of Syria.
U.S. officials confirmed Obama’s authorization Thursday after the White House announced it had conclusive evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against opposition forces. Obama has said the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” suggesting greater American intervention.
While a small percentage of the 93,000 people reportedly killed in Syria are said to have died from chemical weapons “” U.S. intelligence puts the number at 100 to 150 “” the White House views the deployment of the deadly agents as a flouting of international norms. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said the multiple chemical weapons attacks gave greater urgency to the situation.
“Suffice it to say this is going to be different in both scope and scale in terms of what we are providing,” Rhodes said of the ramped-up U.S. response. But he added the U.S. would make specific determinations “on our own timeline.”
The Obama administration could give the rebels a range of weapons, including small arms, assault rifles, shoulder-fired remote-propelled grenades and other anti-tank missiles. The opposition forces could operate most of that equipment without significant training.
Obama’s opposition to sending American troops into Syria makes it less likely the U.S. will provide sophisticated arms or anti-aircraft weapons that would require large-scale training. Administration officials are also worried about high-powered weapons ending up in the hands of terrorist groups. Hezbollah fighters are among those backing Assad’s armed forces, and al-Qaida-linked extremists back the rebellion.
The CIA and special operations trainers are already running some weapons training programs for the rebels and are expected to take charge of teaching the opposition how to use the weapons the U.S. has agreed to supply, another U.S. official said….