US to reconsider arming Syrian rebels

US to reconsider arming Syrian rebels

Syria has faced many troubles since since the fighting between rebel forces and Syrian forces began in March 2011. The United Nations (UN) has suggested that as many as 70,000 Syrians have died in the 2 year conflict.

Reports coming out of Syria suggest that the Assad government are now using chemical weapons against rebel and civilian targets.  The Syrian government, however, has rejected these claims as “lies”. President Obama has said that, “people are being indiscriminately killed” and “we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations”.

phillip-hammond-and-chuck-hagelToday, the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel along side British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said that his government would consider arming the Syrian opposition force. This would be the first time that a senior US official has openly reconsidered arming the Syrian rebels. He said, “Arming the rebels – that’s an option” to reporters.

Leon Panetta, the former Defense Secretary, supported the idea of arming the Syrian rebels and backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her proposals to arming the rebels, along with four other senior high ranking officials. This proposal was rejected by the Obama administration.

However, times have changed and now the US administration are thinking more deeply about what their next move should be. They have called Syria’s use of chemical weapons to be a  “game changer,” and have been using ever more stronger words against the regime.

CNN interviewed Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi and he stated that Syria would never use chemical weapons even if they had them. The accusation that Syria is using chemical weapons comes from US intelligence sources saying that, “with varying degrees of confidence” the Syrian government has been using chemical agent sarin on a “small scale.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has said that it was in the process of verifying reports that Syrian soldiers had killed up to 50 men, women and children, in the village of al-Bayda.

The UK has also been looking into providing armaments and weaponry to the rebel forces; however, has been unable to, due to an EU ban on the arming of the Syrian rebels. The ban, however, is to expire in a few weeks time allowing Defense Secretary Philip Hammond to look into arming the rebels in the near future.

The Syrian rebels are already being supplied by US allies in the area by countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia providing weapons and support to the Syrian rebels fighting on the ground.

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