US military assistance to Syrian rebels: Small arms, CIA training
posted at 11:56 am on June 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
But perhaps nothing armor-piercing, according to Fox News:
The United States will supply Syrian rebels with weapons through a CIA-run program, FoxNews confirmed Saturday.
President Obama decided Thursday to supply rebel forces with small arms and ammunition, following confirmation that the regime of Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s has been using chemical weapons in the 2-year-long civil war in which at least 90,000 people have been killed.
In addition to supplying the weapons, the CIA will train rebel forces, Fox News also confirmed.
Obama vowed last summer to take action should the Assad cross a “red line” by using chemical weapons but has been challenged in verifying whether his forces used chemical weapons and in determining which rebel forces can be trusted.
However, the rebels being supplied with only small arms has disappointed some Capitol Hill lawmakers and other Americas who want a more robust response and who say the administration’s actions might be too little, too late as Assad forces appear to be taking control of the war.
That won’t satisfy John McCain, who wanted to go the full Charlie Wilson and give the rebels anti-aircraft missiles as well as weapons to go after heavy mechanized forces on the ground. The White House seems mindful of the fact that (a) the rebels are mainly Sunni Islamist extremists, and (b) the obvious secondary target for those missiles would be anything flying out of Tel Aviv.
On the other hand, it’s difficult to see how the small arms will do much against larger formations of the Syrian army and even Hezbollah, but it will keep partisan-style warfare in play. That would prolong the conflict and put more pressure on Assad and the rebels to make concessions in peace talks. The Obama administration says that’s their goal, and this seems consistent with the stated mission — and wisely limited, given the choices.