Pentagon Leaders: We Wanted to Arm Syria Rebels
Panetta, Dempsey suggest military disagrees with White House decision
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2013 5:03 PM CST
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, testify on Capitol Hill Thursday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – The response seemed to catch even questioner John McCain off guard, notes the Washington Post: When he asked Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey whether they supported a plan last summer to arm Syrian rebels, this exchange followed:

  • "We did," said Panetta.
  • “You did support that?” McCain responded.
  • "We did," said Dempsey.

None of the three elaborated on the point, which puts the Pentagon at odds with the White House decision not to arm the rebels. The plan to supply them with weapons was floated by David Petraeus and backed by Hillary Clinton, but the White House feared a prolonged conflict, reports the New York Times. Today's Capitol Hill testimony will likely put a focus on President Obama's "cautious response to the conflict in Syria," says the Wall Street Journal's story. In other testimony, the two military leaders defended the US response to the Benghazi attack, but McCain and other Republican lawmakers said it fell way short. It was a "very weak response and reaction," said Saxby Chambliss.

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Showing 3 of 23 comments
cliffofidaho
Feb 8, 2013 11:34 AM CST
So let me get this straight...the Syrian rebels are just plain old disgruntled citizens, understandably so,...but just citizens all the same. They're not a trained army or security force with training and a chain of command, with an organized rank structure (militia); just citizens that have no personally owned firearms; otherwise we wouldn't have to "arm" them. Hmmm...aren't those the same people our government is trying to disarm in this country?...just the average citizen that isn't responsible enough to own a firearm. It's a rhetorical question, so don't really answer it, and I probably won't give a shit. I am just pointing out the irony.
martbals88
Feb 8, 2013 11:21 AM CST
Terrorists Gatherings Targeted, Many Killed, Their Machinegun-equipped Vehicles Destoyed A unit of the Armed Forces killed and injured members of an armed terrorist group in Rema farms in Yabroud in Damascus countryside. A military source told SANA that an Army unit destroyed two cars along with the weapons inside them. The Army Inflict Heavy Losses upon Terrorists in Homs and Hama A unit of the Armed Forces on Friday targeted gatherings of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in several areas in the countryside of Homs province. A military source told SANA reporter that many terrorist were killed while others were injured in al-Za'afaraneh, Aqrab and Deir Fool areas. Meanwhile, a unit of the Armed Forces killed and injured members of an armed terrorist group in al-Kariatain village in Homs countryside. A source in the province told SANA reporter that an Army unit destroyed 4 cars equipped with heavy machineguns. Terrorists Killed, Their Vehicles Destroyed in Idleb A unit of the Armed Forces targeted terrorists in Salqin in the countryside of Idleb, killing and injuring many of them and destroying their vehicles. An official source told SANA reporter that terrorists Abu Obeida, leader of the so called "Ahrar al-Sham Brigade", Jamal al-Haj Obeid and Ibrahim Istanboli were identified among the dead. The source added that a number of the injured terrorists were transported to Turkey, including terrorist Abu Omar al-Libi. Another army unit destroyed a convoy of vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns and anti-aircraft guns, in addition to six cars transporting terrorists, killing all the terrorists inside near al-Hamidiyeh in Maaret al-Numa'an. The source said that a unit of the Armed Forces eliminated large numbers of terrorists in al-Majas area to the north of Abu Dhohour in the countryside of the province. The Armed Forces targeted a gathering of terrorists in Kafer Roma, killing and injuring many of them, in addition to destroying a number of their vehicles, among them armored vehicles and others equipped with machineguns. The Army Eliminates Terrorists, Destroys Missile Launch Pad in Latakia Countryside A unit of the armed forces killed a number of terrorists and injured others while they were trying to move from Sgharou village to Khourbit Soulas in Latakia countryside. A military source told SANA that another Army unit destroyed a missile-launch pad in Bait Aouan in the countryside. Imam of Salah Eddin Mosque in Aleppo Martyred by Terrorists Mortar Shells at the Mosque Sheikh Abdullatif al-Jamili, Imam of Salah Eddin Mosque in al-Ashrafia in Aleppo city Martyred after Terrorists Group Fired Mortar Shells at the Mosque from Bani Zaid Area Two Malaysians Charged with Inciting Terrorism in Syria Prosecution in Malaysia charged an al-Qaeda-linked former army captain and a woman with inciting terrorist acts in Syria. "Yazid Sufaat encouraged terrorist activities," said a ruling at the Magistrate Court in Malaysia, quoted by the Associated Press. Sufaat was reported to have been doing so at a house in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur sometime between early August and late October, while Halimah Hussein was charged for abetting him. Police arrested Sufaat, Hussein and another man Thursday, saying they were the masterminds of an effort to recruit militants. Prosecution documents offered scant details except that their actions could have threatened public safety in Syria. Yazid Sufaat, and Halimah Hussein face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The Malaysian national news agency, Bernama, late Thursday quoted unidentified sources as saying that the suspects tried to recruit young people to be trained for missions that included suicide bombings. Sufaat was detained in 2001 upon returning from Afghanistan where he was suspected of working on a biological and chemical weapons program for al-Qaeda.
HANKHILL
Feb 8, 2013 10:32 AM CST
ayatollah barak osama will send our very best weapons to any brother arab that asks for them! jets and tanks to muslim brotherhood killers in egypt ect.