White House rebuffed Clinton-Petraeus plan to arm Syrian rebels: report

WASHINGTON Sat Feb 2, 2013 9:59pm EST

Hillary Clinton delivers a speech ''Frontlines and Frontiers: Making Human Rights a Human Reality'' at Dublin City University in Ireland December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Hillary Clinton delivers a speech ''Frontlines and Frontiers: Making Human Rights a Human Reality'' at Dublin City University in Ireland December 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A plan developed last summer by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus to arm and train Syrian rebels was rebuffed by the White House, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The United States has sent humanitarian aid to Syria but has declined requests for weapons by rebels fighting to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The White House rejected the Clinton-Petraeus proposal over concerns it could draw the United States into the Syrian conflict and the arms could fall into the wrong hands, the Times said, citing unnamed Obama administration officials.

The plan called for vetting rebels and arming a group of fighters with the assistance of some neighboring countries.

Some administration officials expected the issue to come up again after the November U.S. elections, but the plan apparently died after Petraeus resigned because of an extramarital affair and Clinton missed weeks of work with health issues, the Times said.

Clinton, who stepped down as secretary of state on Friday, declined in a recent interview with the Times to comment on her role in the debate over arming the rebels.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was said by some officials to be sympathetic to the idea, the paper reported.

Petraeus and a spokesman for Panetta declined to comment, the Times said.

(Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (9)
BioStudies wrote:
Are we really supposed to believe this?

Feb 03, 2013 12:53am EST  --  Report as abuse
Adam_Smith wrote:
“The White House rejected the Clinton-Petraeus proposal over concerns it could draw the United States into the Syrian conflict and the arms could fall into the wrong hands … ”

Excellent reasons.

Feb 03, 2013 1:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
Guildenstern wrote:
Just arming the rebels wouldn’t have been such a great idea without providing air support and logistics.

And, it all should have happened long ago. Now, because of the inaction, the jihadists are taking over the opposition and when Assad falls, it will be in their hands.

Feb 03, 2013 2:18am EST  --  Report as abuse
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