US Rethinks Role in Syria

White House considering more involvement to aid rebels

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 29, 2012 9:57 AM CST

(Newser) – With the US election over and Syrian rebels seemingly gaining momentum, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at its own potential involvement in the conflict, the New York Times reports. First, Washington must consider whether NATO should install surface-to-air missiles in Turkey, which some see as a deterrent to Syrian Air Force attacks near the border. Another possibility: Directly arming the rebel forces, instead of supplying weapons through countries like Qatar. Recent rebel successes have lent "a new urgency, and a new focus" to the debate in Washington, says an official.

What's more, "the administration has figured out" that if it doesn't get involved before the war ends, "they won’t have influence with the fighters, and the fighters will control the territory," says a defense expert. In other Syria news:

  • If the rebels want Western support, they'll need a transitional government, and quickly, notes the Christian Science Monitor, and yesterday saw the first meeting of Syria's new opposition coalition. "The objective is to name a prime minister, or at least have a list of candidates ahead of the Friends of Syria meeting" that's coming up, says a vice president. But the meeting was rife with disagreement.
  • Russia appears to be sneaking helicopters to Syrian forces, Time reports. Documents leaked by Anonymous show an apparent flight plan to deliver choppers via travel over Iran, Iraq, and Azerbaijan—thus avoiding countries that have a weapons embargo against Syria. "It’s getting to Syria by the back door," says an expert.

In this image taken from video, a Syrian man speaks as smoke leaps into the air from cluster bombs dropped by an aircraft near a school in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.
In this image taken from video, a Syrian man speaks as smoke leaps into the air from cluster bombs dropped by an aircraft near a school in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)
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