NEW YORK - The White House rejected a plan worked out by then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus’ to arm and train Syrian militants, a report says. The plan was proposed by the two top US officials last summer, but was rejected over concerns that it could entangle the United States with the Syrian crisis and that the arms could fall into the hands of the wrong hands, The New York Times reported on Sunday. The proposal did not manage to be addressed again later due to the American presidential election in November and also due to Petraeus’ extramarital affair as well as Clinton's recent health problems, the report said. When questioned about the issue in a recent interview, the former US Secretary of State declined to comment, the paper added. The Syrian government has repeatedly criticized the US and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, for funding and arming anti-Damascus militants. The US has already provided some USD 25 million to armed groups in Syria, calling it non-lethal aid to help them purchase communication devices. The plan called for vetting rebels and arming a group of fighters with the assistance of some neighbouring countries.
Outgoing Defence 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.
Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have lost their lives in the violence.
Syria says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants fighting the Syrian government are foreign nationals.