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US: Clinton, CIA lobbied to arm Syrian rebels


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 rejected by the White House, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The United States offered some humanitarian support to Syria but declined requests for weapons by rebels fighting to overthrow the government over concerns that the arms could fall into the wrong hands, according to the report, citing unnamed White House officials.

US President Barack Obama also feared that the plan could hamper his reelection bid, the report added.

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 US 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 have supported the idea, the paper reported.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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