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Clinton: I Supported Arming Syrian Rebels, Obama Refused

Former Secretary of State says in new book she favored arming Syria's rebels but was overruled by President Obama.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/6/2014, 6:25 AM

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Reuters

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton favored arming Syria's rebels early in that country's civil war but was overruled by President Barack Obama, she says in her new memoir, obtained by CBS News.

Clinton's book, "Hard Choices", is set for to be released on June 10, but CBS News said Thursday it purchased a copy at a bookstore.

“I returned to Washington reasonably confident that if we decided to begin arming and training moderate Syrian rebels, we could put in place effective coordination with our regional partners,” she writes in the book, referring to an overseas trip she made.

"The risks of both action and inaction were high. Both choices would bring unintended consequences. The Presidents' inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels,” writes Clinton, according to CBS News.

“No one likes to lose a debate, including me. But this was the President's call and I respected his deliberations and decision. From the beginning of our partnership, he had promised me that would always get a fair hearing. And I always did. In this case, my position didn't prevail,” she adds.

The question of whether to arm Syrian rebels in order to give them the upper hand over President Bashar Al-Assad’s troops has long been a hotly debated issue.

Small-scale weapons aid and some military training has already been supplied to select rebel groups, along with "non-lethal" aid such as medical supplies and other equipment, but both Congressional caution and a hesitant White House have prevented anything further, mainly due to fear that the jihadist rebel groups would get their hands on any weapons.

A leading Syrian opposition figure recently said that western states could send desperately-needed arms to rebel groups in Syria "within weeks."

In March, an American official said the Obama administration was considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels. Last week it was reported that Obama is close to authorizing a military-led mission to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.