Unspecified US weapons for Syrian rebels, but no intervention to save Aleppo

The White House, in a second statement, said early Friday said the US would provide “direct military support” for the first time to the Syrian opposition after obtaining proof that the Syrian government had used the chemical weapon sarin against rebel forces. The nature of the package was not specified. The rebels responded to this apparent evasion with a demand for anti-aircraft and other advanced arms to save them from Syrian air bombardment. The first White House statement, eagerly awaited for months, amounted to a rejection by President Barack Obama of proposals to intervene to save Aleppo and Idlib from a defeat that would give Bashar Assad a decisive victory.

It followed a special consultation on Syria by the president and his national security team, necessitated by  the need for drastic action to thwart the Syrian-Hizballah offensive to capture Aleppo, Syrian’s biggest city of more than 2 million..

Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday, June 13: "The president and every member of his national security team are greatly concerned by the terrible situation… and the worsening situation in Syria. As terrible as the situation is in Syria, he has to make decisions when it comes to policy toward Syria that are in the best interests of the United States.”

What Carney conveyed on behalf of the president was that while stopping the battle for Aleppo was crucially important in terms of the Syrian war, intervention was not in the interests of the United States.

Our sources learn that the US president even turned down a plan for a limited no-fly zone being imposed over the northwest city of Aleppo and the province of Idlib, the largest piece of territory still remaining in rebel hands. This plan entailed no more than 20 US and Turkish fighter bombers for preventing the Syrian air force from extending air support to the decisive Aleppo offensive launched by the Syrian army Monday as Operation Northern Storm.

Our military sources report that the Syrian and Hizballah armies need between one to two months to wrest from rebel hands the northwest town of Aleppo and Idlib province which abuts the Turkish border. While their conquest of Al Qusayr was a major regional victory, the fall of Aleppo and Idlib would make Bashar Assad the winner of the 28-month Syrian civil war, just when its death toll nears 100,000 according to official figures.

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