DEMENTED LYING TERRORIST JOHN MCCAIN STARTS ARMING HIS AL-QAEDA AGAINST SYRIA AND CALLING FOR A NO-FLY ZONE (MILITARY INTERVENTION)
Syria regime denounces US chemical weapons claim
14 June 2013 Last updated at 16:08 Share this pageEmailPrint
Syria has dismissed as “a caravan of lies” claims it used chemical weapons after the US said it would give the rebels “direct military aid”.
President Obama made the decision after his administration concluded Syrian forces under Bashar al-Assad were using chemical weapons, a spokesman said.
A rebel leader, Salim Idris, told the BBC it was a “very important step”.
But Syria’s foreign ministry said the US had used “fabricated information” on chemical weapons to justify the move.
Washington was resorting to “cheap tactics” to justify Mr Obama’s decision to arm the rebels, said a statement from the ministry.
On the ground, there were reports of the fiercest fighting in months in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.
Two years of conflict had killed at least 93,000 people, the UN said on Thursday, at a current rate of 5,000 people a month. More than 1,700 children under the age of 10 have died, it added.
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Mr Obama, said the president had made the decision to increase assistance, including “military support”, to the rebels’ Supreme Military Council (SMC) and Syrian Opposition Coalition.
The US was “comfortable” working with Gen Idris, leader of the SMC, and aimed to isolate some of the more extremist elements of the opposition, such as Sunni militant group al-Nusra, he added.
Mr Rhodes did not give details about the military aid other than to say it would be “different in scope and scale to what we have provided before”.
Until now, the US has limited its help to rebel forces by providing rations and medical supplies.
Administration officials have been quoted by US media as saying it will most likely include sending small arms and ammunition. The New York Times quoted US officials as saying Washington could provide anti-tank weapons.
The CIA is expected to co-ordinate delivery of the military equipment and train the rebel soldiers in how to use it, reports said.
Republican Senator John McCain, who has been outspoken in calls for arming the rebels, said he did not know to which type of arms the term “military aid” referred, but that he hoped for anti-tank weapons.
He said his greatest concern was the conflict “spiralling out of control because of a failure of American leadership”, with violence spreading into a wider conflict of Sunni versus Shia and even the US versus Russia.
Russian media response
State-controlled Channel One:
“One cannot but notice the unusual, not to say strange, format of the statement. First, it was a telephone conference. Second, Mr [Ben] Rhodes is a deputy national security adviser for strategic communications for the US president; he is of course across the subject, but his rank is rather low for such strong statements.”
Rossiya 1 TV:
“One is instantly reminded of the well-known story with the vial with crushed chalk that Colin Powell presented as evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq. It is also interesting that the White House’s statement came after Syrian rebels began suffering one defeat after another.”
In an interview with the BBC’s Newshour programme on Friday, Gen Idris said the supply of weapons would help the rebels defeat the Assad regime and defend civilians.
“We are in most need for anti tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles and in addition to all of that we need a huge amount of weapons and ammunition to stop the offensive of the regime,” he added.
The US intelligence community believes the Assad regime had used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the past year, said Mr Rhodes, adding that he estimated as many as 150 people had died in the attacks.
Washington’s “clear” statement was welcomed by Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who urged Syria to let the UN “investigate all reports of chemical weapons use”.
The US announcement is one the Syrian opposition has been pushing and praying for for months, says the BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut.
It seems clear Mr Obama has finally been persuaded, as Britain and France have argued, that the battlefield cannot be allowed to tilt strongly in the regime’s favour, as is currently happening, says our correspondent.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK agreed with Washington’s assessment and said an urgent response to the Syria crisis would be discussed at the G8 summit of economic powers in Northern Ireland next week.
Moscow said Washington’s supposed evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria did “not look convincing”.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman told the BBC he remained against “any further militarisation” of the conflict in Syria, saying the people there needed peace, not more weapons.
The support of the West’s regional allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, had helped the rebels in the days after the uprising became militarised.
But the tide turned after the Assad regime turned to Moscow and Tehran for help. Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have also been involved in the government’s counter-offensive.