Kerry distances himself from Clinton backing of arming Syrian rebels
February 8th, 2013
08:30 PM ET

Kerry distances himself from Clinton backing of arming Syrian rebels

By Jill Dougherty

The president's top diplomat said Friday he wasn't looking "backwards" at the White House quashing of a proposal last summer to arm the Syrian rebels, but was instead looking at what the United States will do regarding helping the opposition.

Last summer President Barack Obama's national security team, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CIA Director David Petraeus, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, backed a proposal to provide weapons to Syrian rebels but, U.S. officials told CNN on Thursday, the White House blocked the idea.

That rift was unexpectedly revealed Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, asked Panetta and Dempsey: "Did you support the recommendation by Secretary of State - then-Secretary of State Clinton and then-head of CIA General Petraeus that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria? Do you support that?
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