Weapons movement in Syria an issue as Obama visits Israel
President Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office at the White House Monday, May 18, 2009
March 18th, 2013
01:06 PM ET

Weapons movement in Syria an issue as Obama visits Israel

By Sara Sidner, reporting from Jerusalem

The issue of how to deal with the movement or transfer of sophisticated weapons in Syria to groups such as Hezbollah or al Qaeda will come up in Israeli discussions with U.S. President Barack Obama this week.

Israeli officials will not publicly confirm or deny a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper that Israel's leadership will try to persuade Obama - who is traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories - to have U.S. forces carry out airstrikes against Syria if evidence shows sophisticated missiles are being handed over to groups both have deemed terrorist organizations.

But a senior Israeli official said, "Syria has weapons not even Iran has. We know where their weapons are and we are watching very closely. In prior discussion I have been in I have not heard a specific request to the United States in those terms. However, these sorts of issues have come up in discussions with America."

Syria "is fragmenting and no one wants to see chemical weapons or state of the art weaponry that Syria has fall into the hands of al Qaeda or Hezbollah in Lebanon," the source said, ending with, "We reserve the right to act in such a crisis. But if someone else would act we wouldn't have to."

On January 30, a U.S. official told CNN an Israeli air strike inside Syria hit a convoy carrying parts of surface-to-air missiles intended for Hezbollah. Controversy remains, however, as to what was hit. Syria's leadership said Israel hit a research facility in a Damascus suburb.

While Israel has not officially commented on the strike, Israel's then-defense minister, Ehud Barak, in January suggested during remarks made at a security conference in Munich, Germany, that Israel had a role in it.

Barak said, "I cannot add anything to what you've read in the newspapers about ... what happened in Syria several days ago but I keep telling frankly that we've said - and that's another proof that when we say something, we mean it. We say that we don't think that it should be allowable to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."

Meanwhile, U.S. officials say a change on the ground inside Syria is necessary to change President Bashar al-Assad's assessment of the situation.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would not stand in the way of its allies arming Syrian rebels. His comments come as Britain and France are pushing the European Union to lift the weapons embargo in order to arm moderate Syrian rebels. Kerry acknowledged the need to change the military “imbalance” on the ground in order to change Assad’s “calculus.” Kerry made the remarks at a press conference on Monday at the State Department.

Last week, Syrian rebels told CNN that the U.S. is helping in organizing training in anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons for Syrian rebels in Jordan.

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soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Cathy Moretti

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    September 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  2. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    March 28, 2013 at 12:00 am | Reply
  3. Matt

    The issue was with an arms embargo Assad would survive or the US would act as they did in Libya. Arms embargo it was. But the Arabs decided to arm the opposition. Now what. The US bombs Syria. An arms embargo was a mistake from the start. The Arabs would not sit back and watch. The US had little influence to stop it. All along the Arabs told the west to arm the moderates, the west said don't send arms, support the embargo. What the west calls moderate and what the Arabs see as moderate are two different things. Erdogan is moderate. Same thing with Egypt stop aid, don't sell weapons to them. They will get money from elsewhere and weapons from Russia. The types of weapons and some may fall into the hands of forces in Sinai or Gaza. I don't see the sense in it. It will be the same as when Russia sold weapons to Assad and he gave weapons to Hizbullah. Why cut aid or military aid and have no influence with Egypt. An arms embargo and no true influence in Syria. They are bad decisions.

    In the start in Syria they were chanting in support of us and now they hate us and it is all Jihad and terrorism. The FSA as it was is no more, that ended last year. Before it was secular and they wanted to vote for there leaders and be free from a dictator. As I said the CIA would end up helping Assad which is what is happening in Iraq in relation to al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria, the Sunni tribes.

    You can't blame the Arabs they told us to arm the moderates or they would. But they are Wahbists so their moderate and our moderate are two different things. Now it is not a problem with the US because the those are US allies but it is a problem for the Israeli 'swho are not allies of them. Like Turkey ally of the US, but not Israel. The embargo by the west was enforced by the US, Israel has influence over the US. So Assad he would not attack Israel it is a tactile agreement. That is why before intervention Qaddafi sent people to Israel. To get the US to back off. The US could not get the Arabs to enforce an embargo at best to keep everyone happy limited weapon supplies from the Arabs. The Arabs don't want to argue with the US and the US does not want to argue with them. So Assad did not get to shoot unarmed people and survive, but he got a fighting chance or a slow death. Which ever way you look at it.

    Now we have no civilian support in Syria and hated. The WMD's if it was that easy we would not have invaded Iraq. It is not just about bombing sites. Sand on the boots. We only know there was nothing because the place was fully checked. So I would prefer someone else to do it too. Even if the Arabs turned off the weapons numerous others that hate us will step in. That is the key word hate. We left them to die and they have a reason stronger than Palestine or the resistance to box on with any liberating, occupying force.

    The issue is the same reason no wanted to arm the opposition with heavier weapons and now when they take the country they get those weapons regardless of the WMD's or what happens to them. That is the real issue. It does not matter who it is Hizbullah, al-Qaida or the opposition. Lebanon or Syria.

    It could have been a peace treaty, half the Golans, a democratic elected secular government, but instead weapons and a bunch of terrorists and a hard decision, perhaps 8 to 10 hard years. Everything is based on intelligence so when the US thought about arming the opposition was a key point in time, now France and the UK that is what their intelligence tells them. Half way through last year the FSA was no longer and the Arabs had take over of the war and have the influence with the opposition. The CIA can do work on the Sunni tribes in Iraq, but Assad is still going to fall.

    March 19, 2013 at 6:30 am | Reply
  4. Tembisa

    Reblogged this on World Chaos.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply

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