Obama administration moving closer to arming Syrian rebels, says GOP senator
~~By Jim Kouri~~
Following a game of golf on Monday with President Barack Obama, Sen. Bob Corker hinted that the U.S. is moving closer to providing military aid to the Syrian rebels in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad's military forces.

The veteran GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hinted after his golf game with Obama that the U.S. will soon be "arming the rebels" seeking to overthrow Syria's Assad and his Ba'ath Party regime.

Tennessee's Sen. Corker told CBS News that "it's time to begin changing" the balance of power in the 2-year-old revolution in which more than 70,000 have been killed and hundreds of thousands wounded or seeking refuge.
Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah said the Syrian rebels are much too weak to bring down the Assad regime
Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah said the Syrian rebels are much too weak to bring down the Assad regime
Photo credit:
World Security Network

Just last week President Obama claimed his administration was rethinking its position on providing military assistance to the Syrian rebels, many of whom are members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQII) and the equally radically-Islamist group, al-Nusra Front.

But the rebels aren't the only fighters being aided by jihadists coming into Syria from other Muslim nations. The Lebanese-based, Iran-backed Hezbollah has joined forces with the Assad government to preserve his regime.

"This is a peculiar situation since al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are both anti-Israeli and anti-American terrorist groups," said Mike Snopes, a former intelligence officer and retired police detective.

"My fear is that, in order to take attention away from the Benghazi scandal, Obama may make decisions that help the rebels, but down the road hurt the United States," Snopes added.

Sen. Corker and Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss played golf with President Obama and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall on Monday. Afterwards, Corker announced on "CBS This Morning" Syria was discussed but the four golfers agreed not to reveal the conversation to the news media.

However, Corker mentioned that Washington wants to exercise care in selecting which opposition groups to support. Corker claimed the U.S. doesn't want to join up with the Islamists fighting against Assad.

Speaking on Hezbollah's TV station Al-Manar, last week Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said the Syrian rebels are much too weak to bring down the Assad regime and the Ba'ath Party.

The Syrian opposition has long claimed the Iranian-backed Shia movement has been supplying fighters to help Assad, who has always been a loyal Hezbollah backer, according to Israeli counterterrorism source, Myra Toenstein.

He cautioned his listening audience that if a key Shia shrine south of Damascus -- that named after Sayida Zeinab, a granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad -- was to be damaged, there would be a violent outcome. "If the shrine is destroyed things will get out of control," he said.

Mr Nasrallah assured the world that Hezbollah wished to avoid the Syrian war spreading into Lebanon, but Hezbollah is prepared to repel any and all invaders.

The Assad regime's military forces and the Islamist-led rebels have been fighting in and around Syria's capital of Damascus for several months, with neither side able to declare a decisive victory.

More than 70,000 people have been killed since fighting between Syrian forces and rebels erupted in March 2011.

Jihadists in Syria may possess chemical weapons: UN investigator
~By Jim Kouri~~
Defense secretary Chuck Hagel announced the U.S. has evidence of the use of sarin nerve gas by the Syrian government.
U.S. Claims New Evidence of Chemical Weapon Use in SyriaU.S. Claims New Evidence of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria

While many United States political leaders and lawmakers say they strongly suspect Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons against rebel forces, the United Nations' war crime team of investigators on Monday reported that while not able to confirm the use of weapons of mass destruction by either side, it may be the rebels who possess and use chemical weapons.

However, one of the U.N. team of investigators is claiming that it is the rebels -- many of whom are members of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front -- who are using chemical weapons against the Syrian military and civilians.

Political pundits claim that President Barack Obama painted himself into a corner by declaring the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would be the "red line" that if crossed would compel the U.S. to act. Obama never expected reports of Syrian rebels using weapons of mass destruction, said Joel Thomlin, a expert in Middle East terrorism.
Reports indicate that the Syrian rebels are as brutal and bloodthirsty as the Assad regime and the news that they may possess WMD should greatly disturb the Obama administration.
Reports indicate that the Syrian rebels are as brutal and bloodthirsty as the Assad regime and the news that they may possess WMD should greatly disturb the Obama administration.
Photo credit:
Police Federation

According to Donald Millanian, a counterterrorism expert, Investigator Carla Del Ponte surprised her colleagues and U.N. officials by saying that the investigative team had gathered evidence, including testimony from both victims and medical staff, that strongly suggested that Islamists fighting along side the rebel forces used the nerve agent sarin, which is banned by the international community.

“The independent international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict,” it said in a statement.

Assad’s government and the rebel Islamists accuse one another of using chemical weapon in their attacks, but Del Ponte believes it is the rebel forces who may have obtained the sarin nerve agent from outside of Syria.

"Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who also served as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, gave no details as to when or where sarin may have been used. She was speaking in an interview with Swiss-Italian television," according to the U.N. statement.

In comments posted in English on Monday, she repeated the assertion, saying that witness testimony made it appear that some chemical weapons had been used.

“What appears to our investigation is that it was used by the opponents, by the rebels,” she said. “We have no indication at all that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.”

Sarin is a deadly neurotoxin developed by Nazi scientists in the 1930's.

Originally sarin was created for use as an insecticide. Iraq's Saddam Hussein used sarin in the 1988 raid on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq. A Japanese cult also used sarin in two attacks in the 1990's, including one in the Tokyo subway system.

Sarin is ingested through inhalation or absorbing it through the skin wherein it attacks the central nervous system.