FIRST ON CNN: White House signs off on new aid for Syrian rebels
A Syrian rebel crosses a street while trying to dodge sniper fire in the old city of Aleppo in northern Syria on March 11, 2013.
April 9th, 2013
06:50 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: White House signs off on new aid for Syrian rebels

By Elise Labott

President Barack Obama has signed off on a new package of nonlethal aid for Syrian rebels, U.S. officials tell CNN, signaling his administration is cautiously wading further into the conflict.

Officials said the White House approved the package at a meeting of the National Security Council last week.

The move reflects what officials describe as a ramped-up effort to change the military balance on the battlefield in Syria.

It follows a decision by Obama last month to send food and medicine to the rebels, the first direct U.S. support for the armed opposition.

Other agencies have not been briefed on the final elements of the package, which is expected to be detailed at a White House meeting this week.

"We have no new decisions on assistance to announce at this point and continue to review every possible option that could help end the violence and accelerate a political transition," said Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman.

Officials said it is expected to include equipment such as body armor, night vision goggles and other military equipment that is defensive in nature, but could be used to aid in combat by Syrian rebels battling forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The package being discussed, however, still falls short of the heavy weapons and high tech equipment sought by the rebels.

Obama's national security team and members of Congress have repeatedly urged the president to increase the direct aid for the rebels.

They argue such a step would strengthen the hand of moderate members of the opposition and make them less reliant on well-armed extremist elements within their ranks.

Secretary of State John Kerry has pushed for more aggressive U.S. involvement in Syria since taking office in February.

The move comes as Britain and France are leading efforts to lift a European Union arms embargo on Syria. Both have suggested they are prepared to join nations like Qatar is providing the rebels with weapons and are urging the United States to do the same.

A push last summer from CIA, Pentagon and State Department leaders was rejected by the White House. At least for now, it remains opposed to arming the opposition, fearing that U.S.-provided weapons could wind up in the wrong hands.

The Obama administration has funneled $385 million in humanitarian aid to Syria through international institutions and nongovernmental organizations.

In addition, Washington has provided more than $100 million to the political opposition and has pressed them to establish a leadership structure.

But the Syrian Opposition Council, the main Syrian opposition group, has roundly criticized the United States for refusing to provide badly-needed support to organize a transitional government and broaden its support inside Syria.

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Brandon Carmouche

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    November 28, 2013 at 2:17 am | Reply
  3. 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. ha ha ha

    April 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  4. Barney

    So let me get this straight. This week every news outlet reported that al Qaida has joined he Syrian rebels. And now we are supporting them even more? Between that and the chemtrail a I see every day I'm starting to believe Alex Jones more and more.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply
  5. Aaron

    The Syrian Opposition has begun using suicide bombers against targets that sometimes include military personnel but always include civilians. So the White House is looking the other way on that and providing aid, but condemning the Afghans and Iraqis who use suicide bombers? I guess I wouldn't mind the aid if I thought for a minute the Syrian Opposition was any better than the regime.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:07 am | Reply
  6. Jennifer

    Wht is wrong with you people? Have you lost your humanity!? Do ouy know what they are doing to the babies over there?????
    The government is torturning and raping children, toddlers,babies to death in front of their mothers and fathers!!! They are intentionally targeting babies and pregnant women!!!! Yeah- helping them is going to create extremist enemies. Are you stupid? Refusing help would do this – not mercy! God forbid someone touch your pocket book to save a 1year old child from being raped to death. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Maybe someone will show you the same mercy someday. People are people – reguardless of where we come from.

    April 11, 2013 at 4:22 am | Reply

    I guess the USA is not as broke as the government makes up out to be. Hell, if they can supply "terrorist" with aid, why can't they supply the future of our country, our children, with BETTER EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE, and IN GENERAL, a better place to live than the current situation we're in. Why can't we take care and aid the people who served our country, to let it be the "free" place that it is today? I'm disgusted with our GOVT...It's only a matter of time when the "COUP" happens in America...Believe it...We have more guns here than the population...I feel bad for the GOVT we will have in place when THE PEOPLE get fed up and take back the county, that should be FOR THE PEOPLE by the PEOPLE...Tired of politics...All freaking politics why we are in the world's backyards...

    April 11, 2013 at 4:14 am | Reply
    • vincent

      Dear Bizness,
      regretfully aid sent out is just like the decades of foreign aid sent out for decades. Both your tax dollars and mine.
      I want to see a bill that says "NO FOREIGN AID TO ANYONE"
      we MUST take care of our own citizens first and try somehow to pay off this massive debt we have incurred

      April 11, 2013 at 7:03 am | Reply
  8. JFG

    Have they gone nuts!!!! Syrian rebels = Al Quida

    April 11, 2013 at 2:38 am | Reply
  9. lisaiam

    What the heck is this crap,why is the us funding coutries who hate us we help them buy more weapons so they can attack isreal who by the way is a loyal alli then they include iran russia north korea saudia arabia all tha while our ppl are making sacrifices like ss,fed workers,medicare,ect,n so on i think if they want aid then tell iran to do it its not our job to aid the world when we have finacial difficulties

    April 11, 2013 at 2:00 am | Reply
  10. Chunk

    I say we go on the basis of the life lost.....we went through a Civil War........thats just my we assist rebels in a coup? Why not?

    April 10, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Reply
    • Mal

      And who will save the people, especially the marginalized, from these rebels that Obama is siding with?

      April 11, 2013 at 12:57 am | Reply
  11. Johan

    The rebels need anti crafet to protect the Syrian people of warplanes.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  12. Andrey

    That has nothing to do with logic:US and EU politicians live in warped reality of their own!

    April 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  13. Rediranch

    Google "al-qaeda acknowledges syrian rebels are part of its network"

    So the Obama administration is helping Al-Qaeda.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  14. obamathebabykiller

    Obama the Al Qaeda supporter. the only reason he took out osama was to take control of the terorist he so loves and supports.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Reply
    • David

      Then why has it taken so long to give them aid? Why had it taken years of republicans hounding? Republicans not only wanted to send non lethal aid, but have publicly said the u.s should be arming them and training them. So who is siding with the enemy here? Get a clue.

      April 11, 2013 at 1:55 am | Reply
  15. AlexanderE81

    Obama, the neocons and every last cretin in Washington DC that is supporting the Syrian opposition can rot in hell for what they have done to that beautiful country. 70,000 plus dead and the blood is on their hands.

    April 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  16. itsdark4u

    Yaaa! Great, keep funding al queda, cause everyone knows we will need someone to fight if north Korea wusses out....

    April 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
    • Joe215th

      Well Played sir.... well played. Christ the real troops on the opposition (al-Nusra) Just announced their alleigence to Al – Qaida officially... Like the black headbands they wear didnt give it away.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  17. rayoftawn

    This is just unfreakingbelievable! We have no business in Syria, we don't have any money to be aiding other countries, and we definitely shouldn't be giving aid non-lethal or not to a group of rebels that was just reported that they are in cohoots with Al Qaeda.

    April 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  18. Troy

    Giving food and medicine is what Jesus would have done. We are not giving weapons but we are aiding in medical supplies and food. Everyone needs food and medicine. I just wish that the government would supply us with much needed food and medicine before supplying others.

    April 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • AlexanderE81

      Your wrong all of the opposition including the Al Qaeda allied ones are being armed through Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey and you can bet that most of the money put up for those arms came from the USA. We have training camps for the "FSA" in Turkey and Jordan. A lot of the arms we gave anti-Ghaddafi forces in Libya have ended up in the hands of the Syrian opposition. I wouldn't be surprised if the CIA isn't giving orders to the FSA and if US special forces or at least mercenaries are not on the ground in Syria right now.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  19. alf564

    Well folks, how much more proof and evidence do you require to believe which religion he worships? It was announced about the alliances that are being formed in Syria between Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and what remains of
    the original rebels. Any one of you realize the the Syrian Army is composed of SYRIANS, and not of foreigners that
    have swarmed into the country hoping for a piece of the spoils when the real SYRIANS are defeated ....

    April 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  20. Wallace

    *disclaimer* this comment is neither in support of or against the subject of this article, it is is also neither dem/repub "proaganda" it is common sense based on the use of logic.

    There is NO such thing as giving "non lethal" assistance to people comitting violence. Semantics won't save the world.

    April 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  21. DC Observer

    Why us? Let the Arab League deal with this; they have the oil money and this is a Muslim issue.

    Why are we spending money we do not have?

    April 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • J

      So following your logic Korea is an Asian problem. Not understanding the political chess match our government faces everyday does not excuse ignorant ass comments like it's a Muslim problem. I have no problem with our country providing support to oust oppressive leaders from any country in the world. In the end wouldn't it be better to oust al-Assad and possibly welcome Syria into the world economy. Look at the end result in a positive sense before you make ignorant comments

      April 11, 2013 at 5:53 am | Reply
      • Hiding in Plain Sight

        Yeah, because "regime change" and ousting leaders with even BIGGER Islamofascist dirtbags has worked soooooooo well for us in the past, right J?
        Wise up, please.

        April 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  22. Zoglet

    Why does the US ignore and undermine the fail to respect the intentions and direction of the UN on this matter?

    April 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  23. David

    Why? We are missing our opportunity to let them completely off each other.

    April 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  24. bezoz

    Today, the Obama administration lost every ounce of respect I still had for them. Arm the dam_n terrorists so they can topple a corrupt regime then attack us, the infidels, tomorrow.

    April 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • Kyle

      Our country was founded by terrorists if that's your logic.

      April 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Reply
      • itsdark4u


        April 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
      • Joe215th

        Yeah Kyle... It was. Read some contemproary British accounts of that war. Dolt...

        April 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  25. Name*cindyB

    Are you kidding me? Slash & burn domestic programs while sending hundreds of millions to Syrian rebels??? Would our policy be the same in a non-oil region?

    April 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  26. Marvel

    We sure could use 385 million in humanitarian aid right here in the u.s.

    April 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      why you don't ask how much aid we pay to Israel every year??

      April 10, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  27. medieval1


    April 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  28. Roland

    Yikes body armor and nightvision equipment? You know where that is going to end up huh? In some appartment in a Western capital from which hundreds of Jihadi's have left to fight in Syria.They bring home presents and gifts for the kuffar natives.

    April 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • I aM

      This all sounds like a story we have heard before, doesn't it ?

      April 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  29. george not bush

    After Assad government falls the new government will be murdering Americans and supporting terrorists that murder Americans. Why isn't the OIL RICH ARABS HEPLING THE REBELS??????????????????????????????????????????

    April 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  30. james stirk

    Now that they have joined up with AL Qaeda, any type of aid should end immediately.

    April 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  31. Chaz

    Bottom line is its nice to someone when their in trouble. But after you provide initial assistance, leave them to fix their issues. Your not helping them fix a flat tire. Merica!!

    April 10, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
  32. George Patton-2

    No surprise here! It figures for that loony Obama to throw our tax money at that riff raft trying to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. This lunacy has been going on since the 1950's!!!

    April 10, 2013 at 11:39 am | Reply
  33. ali

    The complete eco-system here would be like pigs feeding dogs to kill dogs and afterwards remaining dogs will kill pigs in some new battle field soon! Lol!

    April 10, 2013 at 11:33 am | Reply
  34. Sokman

    If Obama cant buy them with food stamps & cell phones his hands are tied

    April 10, 2013 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • mightyduk

      You still believe the obama phone farce? That was disproved 2 years ago....or more.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
      • Jeff Jones

        No it wasn't. That's ridiculous to believe. I work with low income people and I know a number that have recently qualified for the phones.

        April 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • Kaitlyn

        Reality check, Jeff – the Lifeline program that conservatives blast as "Obamaphone" was established in 1985. Eighty-five.

        You know who was president then?

        Ronald Reagan.

        April 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • itsdark4u

        It DID NOT include trac phones and now others. It used to be landlines only not cell phones

        April 10, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  35. Jay

    So the same day the rebels, aka terrorists, profess their cooperation with al Qaeda, we decide to give them millions in aid. Makes no sense.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:24 am | Reply
    • dave

      Yeah, no kidding. I just read that Al-Nusra pledged their allegiance to Al Queda. I knew this was a bad idea. Stop payment on the check! Let them fight it out.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:22 am | Reply
    • April 9

      This was posted April 9, yesterday. Al-Nursa pledged today, April 10.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  36. William

    We shipped F-16s and hundreds of main battle tanks to Egypt and i just read we sent a huge shipment of tear gas to the Brotherhood as well. It just arrived at the Egyptian Abadeya Port in Suez on Sunday. Add to that the direct money aid to them and Libyan islamic rebels, Syrian rebels, SF/CIA training bases in Jordan, drone bases now all over North Africa and SF bases in the Horn of Africa just how much money are we spending, where is it going and why is it going to people who profess to hate us?
    Yet when Iranian students and citizens protested for a year Obama did nothing. I cant figure the man out.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • dave

      It isn't just Obama. The GOP and others want us to provide more aid.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:24 am | Reply
      • Wait a Sec

        Well Dave, it was ALL Bush's fault, every bit of it.
        Pretty sure Democrats were in Congress then too...or No ?

        April 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • American

      U r not spending anything... So chill and there is a good deal on Burger King .

      April 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  37. AuburnJunky

    Waaaait a second. The Syrian Rebels are part of Al Qaeda. Why the hell are we sending THEM weapons?!?!?!

    April 10, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • William

      OBama and the Dems are. But its nice to see sequestration has kicked in.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:14 am | Reply
    • george not bush

      385 million us tax dollars to al caida rebels in syria???? WE NEED TO SEQUESTER FOREIGN AID TO ALL FOREIGN NATIONS BEFORE we cut domestic programs to education,etc,etc.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • American

      Wake up lol lol lol

      April 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  38. 1371usmc

    Funny how the liberals say sending weapons and 100 million that we don't have is a good thing when a dem white house does it but if a republican even says anything about war they are monster.

    April 10, 2013 at 6:09 am | Reply
    • William

      Its for the children. I am surprised he doesnt get some of the rebels, put them on Air Force One and fly them here for political rallies.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
  39. helenecha

    Isn't it good news? Look, no matter what result Syrian conflict is going to be, it's unshakable that the U.S. President Obama supports Syrian rebels and is looking forward to seeing them survived from the war.

    April 10, 2013 at 1:17 am | Reply
  40. Nabil Boustany

    Obama!! to turn your back on Syria is not the answer! Assad is killing civilians every day. He is been killing 100 to 150 a day. The world is watching and no one is rising a flag. Why ? Why Assad is different form Mubarak and Qazaffi? Why not taking him down now ? Why salient about killing in Syria????!

    April 9, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      For the simple fact it's not our fight, had nothing to do with our security, and we are not the world police. If anyone needs to act its Nato not the US.

      April 10, 2013 at 6:14 am | Reply
      • Jack

        Syria has stockpiles of chemical weapons so there is a secureity element to this.

        April 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • itsdark4u

      Because us american people don't honestly give a crap. Why don't you holler at Egypt or the Saudis who just got billions in military equipment

      April 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • J

      Because by backing the rebels we will gain a new ally when they win. We are not in this to give them their country back we are helping to possibly gain an ally. Look at a map of Syria ....... Look what's around it stop thinking logic and think strategy.

      April 11, 2013 at 6:12 am | Reply
      • J

        Just so you understand what I'm talking about draw a triangle from camp leatherneck to Bahrain to Syria and look in the middle of it. Politics is chess not checkers

        April 11, 2013 at 6:16 am |
  41. StanCalif

    Our own "elected" representatives are scared to death of the NRA. Syria, North Korea, backstabbing Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are not even in thier thoughts!!! Our Congress is populated with cowards! All that matters is the lobbyist's checkbooks! Very sad! Everything is Obama's fault, yet Congress does nothing, nothing at all! Obama didn't start all this international friction, but he must solve it alone! Praise to the NRA, and the next election! Today, do nothing!

    April 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Not to burst your bubble but congress can not do anything about this matter unless you want the US to declare war. That's what congress can do everything else has to come from the White House. Your right he is a coward.

      April 10, 2013 at 6:58 am | Reply
      • dave

        Uh, no. Wrong on all accounts. If you believe the prez is omnipotent, and congress is impotent, I suggest you write your congressman a letter about that. See how the real world operates.

        April 10, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  42. Vic

    100 million for the opposition to establish leadership?. LOL. I thought they had leadership. Do we mean bribes?

    April 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      on papers yes, but in reality 100mil to buy ammos for rat extermination, human rats.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  43. Vic

    I am just amazed on the words used in this report and making it sounds this is nonlethal aid and defensive in nature. bunch of crap. When it come to foreign news, t seems the US media acts in accordance with US government and there is no free press. And, later we wonder why US citizens are not well informed.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      whatever, we don't need to be well informed, we just need to numbers, of dead terrorists. I say feed the terrorist dogs to kill the terrorist dogs. Caso cerrado.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  44. George Patton

    feed dogs to kill dogs, plain and simple.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  45. Vic

    How is this NOT leathal aid?. Why is US spending our Tax dollars changing the balance of power in another country. If Syrian opposition has the support of the people they will win. They Don't. There is no guarantee this aid will not fall into the worong hands. We continue to do the same mistake and spend more money to clean it up. We should leave each country to decide its own faith. If Syria would have done this to US, we would declare war on them in an instance.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Reply

    I say more aid . Yes that's what I said NO ...Americans have problems right here at home that never get addressed...till we fix our own country's problems.... No more aid.not one dollar more

    April 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Your injecting common sense into a white house that had none.

      April 10, 2013 at 7:00 am | Reply
  47. wjm

    I believe in this case that the president is right by supplying non lethal equipment as well as food and shelter. This is a civil war that has carried on for the last two years, the people fighting on the ground should be the ones to determine the future of their country and not outsiders. Al asaad's time is limited and eventually he will leave Syria one way or another, then the international authorities can pick him up and put him behind bars where he belongs. Blindly giving people or groups weapons and thinking that the rebels will just hand them back over when the conflict is resolved is rather juvenile. American soldiers have had to face their weapons on more than one ocassion, its a road not worth going down again.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  48. Shawn

    I do not know one thing about wars , setting them up and who figures out to use which weapon and when. Right now fear is alive and well here in America because of the situation in NK.
    I do not support aiding nor helping in any way except food in Syria and doctors /medical staff. Israel and Syria by history have warred with each other for eons.To supply more weapons to any country is like advising suicide,imo. History in the middle east is bad and has been for over 2 thousand years plus. As an American I believe we have done enough and get out of the middle east. It is and always has been a no win situation. We might as well be lost in an open space not knowing where we stand and allow more accusations to hit us. No one in those areas ever consider the amount of people there in Afghanistan attempting to make things better , no one knows the amount of rebuilding being done in Iraq . Afghanistan is a hard area and the death toll high for us and them. They know the territory because it is their territory not a place we can simply climb and know where all hiding places are.Afghanistans terrorists use their own people as shields. yet , we killed over one million in Iraq ? I know the sympathizers are going to verbally attack us and it has gotten to the point where we are being black mailed by a bunch of small cell groups that believe they put fear into everyone. Now Syria? Not. I would let Syria figure it out and allow them to take care of themselves ,because later down the road they will find reason to complain and slander. Food and medical only .. period.. imo of course.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  49. 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.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • John Doe

      You Idiot!

      April 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        John, the guy is a Pakistani troll, leave him alone.

        April 9, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
      • Mohammed

        And how did you know he is a pakistani? Mr. Pet on

        April 10, 2013 at 3:55 am |
      • American

        Get the real and true news first, I bet u got the Fox News shirt on .. Lol

        April 10, 2013 at 8:20 pm |

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