WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The United States has begun delivering weapons to Syrian rebels over the past two weeks, which marks "a major escalation of the U.S. role" in the Syria conflict, a report said.
The move by the U.S. spy agency the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ended months of delay in lethal aid that the Obama administration promised long ago, a report published on the Washington Post's website quoted U.S. officials and Syrian figures as saying on Wednesday.
The shipments of weapons were delivered to Syrian rebels together with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear, the report said.
The arms shipments are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, and the U.S. hopes that they "will boost the profile and prowess of rebel fighters in a conflict that started about 2 1/2 years ago."
New types of nonlethal gear, including vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment and advanced combat medical kits, are also being shipped to the rebels, at a time when the Obama administration is threatening to attack Syrian government for its alleged chemical attack on Aug. 21, that the U.S. claims killed more than 1,400 people near the capital of Damascus.
The latest U.S. aid is aimed at supporting rebel fighters under the command of Salim Idriss, head of the Supreme Military Council, a faction of the disjointed armed opposition, the report said.
The Obama administration pledged in April to provide arms to Syrian rebels, but such efforts have lagged due to fears that these weapons could fall into hands of the extremist militants fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The CIA shipments of arms flow through a network of clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan, the report said.
A Syrian opposition official was quoted as saying that the U.S. remains reluctant to provide the rebels what they most desire: antitank and antiaircraft weapons.
BEIJING, Sept.12 (Xinhua) -- More countries are responding positively to a Russian initiative to put Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles under international control to avert a possible U.S. strike on the Arab country.
"Iraq welcomes the Russian initiative that calls on the Syrian government to hand over their stockpiles of chemical weapons for international supervision and control as an international measure of disarmament," an Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement said Wednesday. Full story
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council met here on Wednesday to discuss Syria's chemical weapons crisis, but no deal was reached, diplomatic sources said.
Each member set out their position, with Russia blocking the move to mount pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Full story
MOSCOW, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia had evidence that the Syrian opposition possessed and used chemical weapons, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.
"There are reasons to presume that not only the Syrian government but also the militants possess chemical weapons," said Alexei Pushkov, head of the International Affairs Committee of the State Duma, or lower house of the parliament. Full story
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday evening embraced the Russian proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control, opting for a way out of the bind he found himself in after his push for Congressional authorization of a military strike yielded little result.
The sharp turn from military action to multilateral diplomacy signifies the changing times in which Americans are ready to look inward. Full story