Syria Today: US “Will Supply Weapons to Insurgents”

Joanna Paraszczuk, " />
By , June 14, 2013 02:43 Updated

Syria Today: US “Will Supply Weapons to Insurgents”

Photo: A Syrian rebel fighter holds a position in the southern Syrian town of Maaret al-Numan in front of the army base of Wadi Deif. (AFP/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

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The Obama Administration has put out the message, via The New York Times, that it has decided to overtly supply small arms and ammunition to insurgents.

The US has been involved in covert efforts for months to provide weapons to “moderate” elements of the insurgency, but Administration officials have been engaged in an internal battle over whether to act publicly. Earlier this week, two senior officials leaked the news that the Administration was considering plans for open provision of weapons and a no-fly zone.

The sources for the Times said the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they added that anti-aircraft weapons are not under consideration.

The Obama Administration is likely to justify the open support with the rationale of regime use of chemical weapons.

In a shift of position, the White House said on Thursday that the Assad regime had used the weapons “on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year”.

Last week, the British and French Governments — pushing for escalated support of the insurgency — put out the message that they had definite proof of regime use of chemical weapons, but a White House spokesman said the US had not established the claims were true.

On Thursday, Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes said the new assessment had changed President Obama’s calculus.

However, State Department officials indicated that the real catalyst for the US decision was the recent success of the Syrian military, such as the capture of Qusayr near the Lebanese border, with Iranian] flights carrying weapons “and Hezbollah’s decision to enter the fight on the side of the Assad government”.

Another official indicated that the shift in Washington’s position will bring co-ordination between the US, Britain, and France for “further measures”, as Obama leaves on Sunday for a meeting of the”G8″ countries in Northern Ireland.

The Times claims that the debate is on-going, with some “senior State Department officials” advocating airstrikes to hit primary landing strips in Syria. They contend that the regime is using the strips to launch chemical weapons attacks, move troops around the country, and receive shipments of arms from Iran.

However, according to the Times, “White House officials remain wary.”


Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Nasrallah: We Entered Syrian Conflict To Help Lebanon

The secretary general of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said Friday that the Lebanese group entered the Syrian conflict to protect Lebanon’s interests.

Nasrallah said that there was a foreign intelligence plan inciting sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias in the region, noting that rockets that had hit Lebanese towns had come from Syria.

Hezbollah, he said, had entered the Syrian conflict as part of the “resistance”, in order to “face this US-Israeli-Takfiri project”.

“Had our interference in the Syrian battles been alongside the opposition, would it have been deemed blessed?” he asked.

LBCI has a full video report (in Arabic):

Syrian Coalition: We Need US Direct Support

Following the announcement early Friday that the US would provide support to Syrian insurgents, the Syrian Coalition’s Special Representative to the US said Friday evening that “direct US support of all kinds” was needed to achieve results.

The Coalition said it welcomed increased US support — including military support, but said such aid needed to be “strategic and decisive” not just to end the fighting but achieve a political transition.

“President Obama’s leadership, as well as direct US support of all kinds, is necessary in order to create the conditions on the ground required to enable the implementation of a negotiated settlement,” said Dr. Najib Ghadbian in a statement.

More Footage From Al-Iskan Checkpoint Near Idlib

This news report provides more footage of the insurgent-captured al-Iskan checkpoint near Idlib. The report notes that the insurgents managed to capture the checkpoint, inflicting heavy casualties on regime soldiers as well as seizing armored vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

The footage shows insurgents talking about the equipment they captured from Assad’s forces.

Opposition in Kafranbel to Russia and Iran “We Will Kick Your Asses Out”

A video of members of the opposition in Kafranbel in Idlib Province shows them holding a banner that reads “Russia and Iran! We dare you to use all your power against us, the truth is we will kick your asses out.”

Friday Protests In Aleppo Against The “Safavid Project”

In the wake of increased Sunni-Shia sectarian violence — including a reported mass killing of Shia Muslims in the village of Hatla this week — and of involvement by Lebanese Iranian-backed Shia group Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, here is footage from protests in various Aleppo neighborhoods on Friday against the “Safavid project”.

The term is a reference to Iran and its 16th century Safavid dynasty, which established the Twelver school of Shia Islam. The Safavids spread Shia Islam across Iran as well as across Central and South Asia and parts of the Caucasus.

This video shows a demonstration in Aleppo’s Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood (map below):


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This footage is from al-Bab, Aleppo and protesters say that the “Safavid Project” is a threat to the nation:

This footage is from Al Fardos, Aleppo:


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Hezbollah Will Fight “Wherever Needed”

Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has said that the Lebanese militant group will keep fighting in Syria ‘wherever needed.’

Today’s Protest in Largely-Kurdish Qamishli

Protests — Rather Than “Regime Offensive” — in Aleppo

Amid continuing rumours — but no evidence — of a “regime offensive” in Aleppo, a rally in the insurgent-held section of Saleheddin:

And insurgents moving through the Midan district:

Map Of Activity Around Idlib (Cedric Larousse)

Cedric Larousse posted a map of activity around Idlib, following the insurgent victory on the al-Iskan military checkpoint on the road between Sarmin and Idlib.

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Larousse writes on his Facebook page:

The fall of this military point open now the eastern Idlib entrance to rebels for a major attack If they want. Al-Iskan military point was used to shell civilians in Binnish and Sarmin. Rebels from Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al Nusra take two tanks, three cars with machine gun, and lots of ammunation. Many loyalists killed. Others have fled to Idlib. This is the second important military victory for the rebels in one month after the fall of the Nayrab shabiha camp, May 22.

Footage From Sakhour, Aleppo Following Rumors Of Heavy Fighting

This footage of the Sakhour neighborhood in Aleppo, posted Friday by the Aleppo Media Center, contrasts with comments from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who told AP this morning that the area had seen “the heaviest fighting in months”.

The video shows people in the rebel-held neighborhood going about their daily lives. An insurgent patrol denies rumors that regime forces had stormed the area.

Today’s Protest in Waar Section of Homs

Footage: Insurgents claim takeover of Al-Iskan military checkpoint near Idlib

The Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, has taken over the al-Iskan military checkpoint near Idlib. Several other factions also participated in the takeover of the checkpoint: Jabhat al-Nusra, Liwa al- Tawhid, Liwa al-Haq, and the Harakat Ahrar as-Sham.

Control of the checkpoint will make it easier for insurgents to attack Idlib city.

The insurgent group’s Facebook page shows this video of fighters on a T-72 tank:

This video, posted today, shows the checkpoint after its “liberation” by the insurgents, and name-checks the participating insurgent factions, saying they defeated Bashar al-Assad’s shabiha. Several black Islamist flags appear to have been flown on the checkpoint, although it is not clear to what faction they belong.

This video, also posted today, shows the checkpoint and includes footage of two insurgents, who list the names of some of their fellow fighters killed in the battle:

This news report from Thursday shows more footage of the capture of the checkpoint and includes an interview with Mohammad Samia from the Liwa al-Tawhid:

US Chemical Weapons Claims “Lies” and “Fabricated Information”

In response to the latest accusations by the United States that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against the rebels, state news agency SANA has quoted a foreign ministry official as saying “The White House published a statement full of lies about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, based on fabricated information, through which it is trying to hold the Syrian government responsible for such use.”

The official also claimed that the US allegations came “after reports affirming that armed terrorist groups active in Syria are in possession of deadly chemical weapons and the technology necessary to make them.”

He added, “The American decision to arm armed terrorist groups demonstrates… the direct involvement of the United States in the Syrian bloodbath,” which “raises serious questions about their good faith when it comes to finding a political solution in Syria.”

Syrian Regime Claims Control of Rusafa Neighhorhood, Deir Az-Zur

Syrian State media report on Friday that the Syrian army had “restored stability” to the Rusafa neighborhood of Deir Ez-Zur after “destroying terrorist nests”.

Over the past few days, activists have posted video footage of clashes in the area, including this video of a young man, named as Ahmad al-Dhiyan, killed in the fighting (WARNING — GRAPHIC.)

This video shows destroyed buildings, which activists say is the result of artillery barrages on the Rusafa neighborhood:

This video show shells falling on the neighborhood on Thursday:

State media also reported clashes in the Airport neighborhood of Deir Ez-Zor, claiming that the Syrian army was continuing to hunt for insurgents and had “eliminated a number of them and destroyed their vehicles and criminal equipment”.

Insurgents have reported fierce clashes in the Airport neighborhood over the past days.

This short video shows damage to buildings after strikes on the neighborhood:

Russia Rebuffs US Claim About Regime Use of Chemical Weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ashakov, has said that Washington’s information of Syrian regime use of chemical weapons “didn’t look convincing“.

Ushakov warned that US provision of arms to insurgents could derail efforts to convene an international peace conference.

In contrast, Britain — which pushed confirmation of the chemical weapons claim to Washington last week — has expressed support for Washington’s latest announcement. Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “The United Kingdom has presented evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria to the UN investigation, and we have been working with our allies to get more and better information about the situation on the ground.”

US Officials: No-Fly Zone For Southern Syria Under Consideration

US officials — going beyond the Obama Administration’s confirmation of overt arm supplies to insurgents — have told The Wall Street Journal that a military proposal also includes a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory.

The officials said a no-fly zone stretching up to 25 miles into Syria could be enforced using aircraft flying inside Jordan.

The U.S. has already moved Patriot air defense batteries and F-16 fighter planes to the Kingdom.

The plan would not include the destruction of Syrian antiaircraft batteries. Instead, US planes have air-to-air missiles that could destroy Syrian planes from long ranges. Moreover, the officials said, the American aircraft could enter Syrian air space if threatened by advancing Syrian planes, because this would be justified as self-defense.

Syria Complains To UN Over Hatla Mass Killing

The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Friday asked the UN to condemn a June 12 mass killing in the village of Hatla near Deir Ez-Zor, state media reports.

The Foreign Ministry has used the events in Hatla to reinforce its arguments that foreign states’ sponsorship of the insurgency is resulting in mass killings against civilians.

In letters to both the UN Secretary General and the President of the UN Security Council, the Foreign Ministry writes:

“Syria stresses that when a number of states refused to condemn such crimes, they would encourage the terrorist groups to go ahead in their crimes which target the innocent citizens through committing massacres, random shelling on civilian regions in addition to the suicide bombings which even didn’t spare the residential buildings, public establishments, mosques, churches as well as assassinating the Islamic and Christian clerks.”

In its complaint to the UN, Syria said that the mass killings had been perpetrated by Islamist insurgent group Jabhat al-Nusra, but had been “instigated by one of the sheikhs of salafis in Kuwait called Shafi al-Ajami who is involved in funding and sending thousands of jihadists into Syria”.

The Foreign Ministry went on to blame Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for supporting the insurgency, as well as the recent EU decision to lift an embargo on arming insurgents.

Syria said the attacks were against civilians, and targeted “scores of citizens, most of them women and children because they refused to support their criminal activities”.

However, it is not clear exactly what happened in Hatla, including who and how many people were killed and by whom and whether the victims were civilians or pro-government fighters.

Video footage taken before and after the killings show groups of Islamists — some waving Islamic State of Iraq banners and some Jabhat al-Nusra banners — who shout slurs against Shias and say that they cleansed Hatla of Shia Muslim fighters in a revenge attack. In some footage, Islamists accused Kuwait of funding the Shia fighters in Hatla, while other reports said that those carrying out the killings were Kuwaiti fighters.

UK-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 60 people were killed, but did not offer evidence to reinforce this claim.

Insurgents Call 4 “Effective” US Supply of Weapons

After Thursday’s signal from the Obama Administration that it will overtly supply arms to the insurgency, Syrian opposition leaders have called the delivery of anti-aircraft and other sophisticated weapons.

“(They) need to provide effective military assistance to take the necessary steps to prevent the criminal regime from using chemical weapons,” Brigadier-General Selim Idriss, the head of the Joint Military Command, said.

George Sabra, the acting leader of the Syrian National Coalition, echoed the call: “We want anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. We expect to see positive results and genuine military support.”

US Statement on Regime Use of Chemical Weapons

The key paragraphs of the White House statement, issued last night, claiming that it has confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime:

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. 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. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons.

We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.

Casualties

The Local Coordination Committees claim 91 people were killed on Thursday, including 23 in Damascus and its suburbs, 17 in Aleppo Province, and 15 in Homs Province.

The Violations Documentations Center records 63,559 deaths since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 88 from Thursday. Of the dead, 48,974 are civilians, a rise of 55 from yesterday.

Video: Insurgents Capture Regime Base on North-South Highway

Raw video from Associated Press of insurgents capturing a regime base, on the northern edge of the town of Morek, alongside Syria’s strategic north-south highway:

Joanna Paraszczuk, " />
By , June 14, 2013 02:43 Updated
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23 Comments

  1. RedTornadoes June 14, 21:40

    Never has the course of Syria’s War changed so drastically in liittle more than 24 hours. That includes the big defection news from Turkey. For that and other updates see:

    http://iranian.com/posts/view/post/15923

    Reply to this comment
  2. Caligola June 14, 13:52

    https://twitter.com/THE_47th/status/345517178155565056

    Some sort of US. military campaign against Assad to be expected in the next weeks.

    Considering his reliability in the past these are very important rumors, wouldent call them news just yet.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Catmari June 14, 11:42

    Activists: Clashes in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city
    (AP) — Syrian troops and rebels fought the heaviest battles in months Friday Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, a day after U.S. officials said Washington has authorized sending weapons to opposition fighters for the first time.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the clashes concentrated in the eastern rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour, calling the fighting “the most violent in months.” It said troops attacked the neighborhood from two directions but failed to advance, suffering casualties.

    The opposition’s Aleppo Media Center said troops bombarded Sakhour with tank shells and rockets before sending in troops. The fighting lasted about four hours, and then warplanes raided rebel positions in Sakhour. http://news.yahoo.com/activists-clashes-aleppo-syrias-largest-city-080117056.html

    Reply to this comment
    • Caligola June 14, 12:07

      Aleppo is no Quasir….Aleppo will not fall, actually i wouldent be surprise to watch major FSA advances in aleppo and in the south of the country with these new weapons starting to enter the battlefields.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Catmari June 14, 11:27

    Syria: Inventing a Religious War
    By Toby Matthiesen, New York Review of Books blog
    It might be tempting to view Shia fighters traveling to a foreign country to defend a religious shrine as the final realization of an age-old battle that started with the schism of Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Such a simplistic reading is, however, deeply misleading. Sayyida Zainab—a shrine whose status as a site of Shia religious pilgrimage was largely created in the 1980s and 1990s—lies at the heart of a strategic relationship between the Assad regime, Iran, and Arab Shia groups. This relationship uses religious symbols and sectarian language but it is driven far more by geo-strategic interests than faith. The various groups that profit from a further sectarianization of the conflict, this time on the Shia side, are to blame. These include Iran, which is trying to re-establish its influence over all Shia political movements and groups, whether in the Gulf, in Iraq or elsewhere.

    More: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/jun/12/syria-inventing-religious-war/

    Reply to this comment
    • Overleaf June 15, 06:23

      The Shia-Sunni rift is immensely overblown. It is more a representation of deep seated material and ideological differences — but of course the regime benefits to portray it as sectarian.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Catmari June 14, 10:34

    Syria: Bilal Ahmed Bilal, the Detained Journalist is Tried Before Military Field Tribunal
    The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression is reporting that the Syrian Journalist, director at Palestine Today TV, Bilal Ahmed Bilal was sentenced to fifteen years in jail after a trial before the military field tribunal.

    September 13th 2013, Syrian authorities arrested Bilal Ahmed Bilal at the Recruitment Division while he was trying to obtain an allowance to leave for Lebanon on assignment, according to some sources, Bilal was severely beaten since the first moment of his arrest and he was detained by Air Force Intelligence.

    Bilal is suffering a very bad health in Saidnaya Jail resulting from the brutal torture he was subject to, while he was detained in the Air Force Intelligence, witnesses said.

    Military field tribunal is an exceptional secret court in which no lawyers allowed to attend and no judicial process of any kind is possible just as defense, cassation, appeal and its sentences are to be immediately carried out
    More: http://scm.bz/?page=show_det&category_id=1&id=1130&lang=ar

    Reply to this comment
  6. Pak June 14, 10:29

    Why Obama is arming Syria’s rebels: it’s the realism, stupid. http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/06/14/why_obama_is_arming_syrias_rebels_its_the_realism_stupid

    “To your humble blogger, this is simply the next iteration of the unspoken, brutally realpolitik policy towards Syria that’s been going on for the past two years. To recap, the goal of that policy is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible. This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished…. at an appalling toll in lives lost.

    This policy doesn’t require any course correction… so long as rebels are holding their own or winning. A faltering Assad simply forces Iran et al into doubling down and committing even more resources. A faltering rebel movement, on the other hand, does require some external support, lest the Iranians actually win the conflict. In a related matter, arming the rebels also prevents relations with U.S. allies in the region from fraying any further.

    So is this the first step towards another U.S.-led war in the region? No. Everything in that Times story, and everything this administration has said and done for the past two years, screams deep reluctance over intervention. Arming the rebels is not the same thing as a no-fly zone or any kind of ground intervention. This is simply the United States engaging in its own form of asymmetric warfare. For the low, low price of aiding and arming the rebels, the U.S. preoccupies all of its adversaries in the Middle East.”

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    • Kevin June 14, 11:00

      Is that any different from the Iranian strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan? I doubt many people in the US or the Gulf countries would mind seeing Iran bleed in Syria and if the situation was reversed the mullahs would be thrilled to do the same to them(not that they haven’t tried already).

      Reply to this comment
  7. Catmari June 14, 10:19

    Social Media Reporting and the Syrian Civil War
    The United States Institute for International Peace presents an in-depth study of how social media have influenced coverage of the Syrian civil war.

    - The lack of traditional reporting and verifiable journalistic reports about the ongoing conflict in Syria has led to an increased dependence on social media as a source of news. But assessing the veracity of these reports has proven extremely difficult, creating consistent distortions of Syria’s on-the-ground reality.

    - The large amounts of social media data emerging from conflict zones like Syria and new data analysis tools have the potential to help overcome these distortions.

    - Despite this enthusiasm, a number of conceptual and practical hurdles remain before these tools can create reliable predictive models of conflict dynamics.

    http://www.usip.org/publications/social-media-reporting-and-the-syrian-civil-war

    Reply to this comment
  8. Catmari June 14, 10:16

    The Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies has established three local offices inside Syria. These offices are managed by activists and human rights defenders. One of the offices will operate in and cover northern Syria, the second the middle regions and provinces, and the last the southern parts of the country.

    The main mission of these local offices is to document the daily violations in each area of operation, including counting and gathering information about victims and detainees, collecting evidence, creating databases, and documenting testimonies from victims and eye witnesses. Reports will be sent daily with statistical lists, charts, and tables to be published and to finally be used in order to prosecute human rights violators.

    The establishment of the three local offices will be the first step followed by other ones. DCHRS will continue covering all the regions in Syria as possible via its local offices. And for other regions that are difficult to reach and found offices in, DCHRS will continue working with volunteers and activist to cover them as well.

    More: http://dchrs.org/english/news.php?id=1236&idC=1

    Reply to this comment
  9. Catmari June 14, 10:12

    New informative website on Syria: The Syrian Observer http://www.syrianobserver.com

    The Syrian Observer is a daily online news service covering Syrian political and civil society news. It is dedicated primarily to translating into English news content produced by Syria’s official press, opposition groups, activists and civil society. In addition to translated content, the website publishes original features, op-eds, interviews and blog posts. It also aims at building an extensive Who is Who database of the main actors of the Syrian political and civil society scenes.

    The objective of the Syrian Observer is to provide a better understanding of Syria, to introduce Syria’s civil society and nascent political activity to the outside world and to contribute to the advancement of democratic values. The target audience of the website includes journalists, academics, diplomats, think tanks and all individuals and institutions operating in, or with Syria, and interested to learn more on Syria from Syrian sources. The publication is editorially and politically independent. Its editor-in-chief is Wael Sawah.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Kevin June 14, 09:33

    The way I see it is that Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah left us no choice but to arm the rebels. To not arm the rebels would be a big blow to the credibility of the US in the middle east and possibly elsewhere. It’s also impossible to have negotiations while Assad and his backers are steadily advancing thanks to Hezbollah sending thousands of fighters armed by Iran. There have also been reports that Revolutionary Guards are now taking part in combat. As hard as we may try we can’t turn a blind eye to that. Our allies in the gulf are already furious that we have resisted doing more to help the rebels and some of our European allies feel the same way. I don’t know if Assad used chemical weapons or not, but I do know that Obama didn’t need that to justify stepping up support for the rebels. Assad’s backers can’t say a word because any help we give to the rebels is still likely to be a fraction of the support that Assad is receiving.

    Reply to this comment
    • Pak June 14, 10:00

      The chemical weapons issue is no more than a political point. Otherwise, why would a weapon that has, according to the US’ own spin, killed no more than 150 people be so important, when bullets and bombs have killed the vast majority of people in Syria?

      But you are right in saying that the US had no choice but to do this, particularly given the “reputation” argument and the necessity to respond to Russia. The question becomes whether this is also just another political move, or if the Americans are genuinely intent on becoming even more entrenched in the conflict. If it is the former, then a political settlement may become more realistic. If it is the latter, then the US has made another big mistake.

      Reply to this comment
      • Kevin June 14, 11:30

        I think this whole thing is about negotiations and getting all the players around the table on equal footing. That means we have to bring balance or it’s a waste of time. Assad wasn’t eager to talk when he was perceived to be losing. Now that he is perceived to have the upper hand you think he will talk in good faith? The rebels were right to avoid talks right now. There is no way Assad would be in the mood to give concessions that may be necessary to end the fighting while he still thinks he can win militarily.

        Reply to this comment
          • Kevin June 15, 05:43

            That’s an interesting read. Thanks for sharing that. I really don’t think the Gulf countries or Turkey would ever stand for Iran to have the type of sphere of influence suggested in the article. The EU and the US probably wouldn’t tolerate that kind of Iranian influence either. Assad’s alliance with Iran has always been one of the major driving forces behind attempts to bring his regime down. His alliance with Iran is like a double edged sword for Assad. On one hand he has Iran’s full support and backing. On the other hand countries are supporting rebels due in part to his alliance with Iran. Maybe he should’ve been a little more thoughtful about who he got in bed with. Nearly every single one of his neighbors is hostile to Iran.

            Reply to this comment
    • Catmari June 14, 10:10

      ” I don’t know if Assad used chemical weapons or not, but I do know that Obama didn’t need that to justify stepping up support for the rebels.”

      Yes he did, to justify his providing lethal military aid to Syrian insurgents, and perhaps going farther than that, to the American public, who are not in favour of US military inovlvement (or spending) in another war in the ME.

      The red lines he’s citing were crossed a long time ago, but now – after the fall of Qusayr – is a convenient moment to pull them out of the closet and dust them off.

      Reply to this comment
      • Kevin June 14, 11:23

        The Hizbollah intervention alone should’ve been enough to justify stepping up support for rebels. If he was that worried about what the American public might say then he could’ve did everything covertly. The fact that they are talking about it very publicly means they are intent on sending a message. He doesn’t need permission from congress or anybody else. People inside and outside his administration have been pleading for Obama to take action for about a year now.

        The red line for the American public is boots on the ground. I kind of doubt Americans will be that upset about trying to screw Assad. It depends on how far he goes. He could face resistance if he wants to setup a no-fly zone, but I don’t think people will care that much about sending arms.

        Syria is not Iraq and Obama is not George W Bush. Chemical weapons might be the most convenient excuse, but there are several ways he could’ve sold that to the American public and he has bent over backwards to stay out of it for two years. It depends on how he handles it.

        Reply to this comment
    • Caligola June 14, 10:25

      https://twitter.com/zaidbenjamin/status/345466413542174721

      according to sky news arabia heavy weapons and antiaircraft have already started to enter the country.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Insight_66 June 14, 07:58

    Finally and about friggin time! Now the rebels can have some of the resources that the regime has had all along.

    Reply to this comment
    • Caligola June 14, 09:16

      Big huge turning point. I think if they get the right weapons this is a game changer in favour of the rebels.

      Reply to this comment
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