Pentagon Clarifies Hagel’s Linking Russia As Supplier of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 4 2013 8:09 PM

Pentagon Clarifies Hagel’s Linking Russia As Supplier of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

179434352
Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speak during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill September 3, 2013.

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon walked back Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s assertion on Wednesday that Russia supplied the Syrian government with chemical weapons.

When testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hagel was asked where Syria’s chemical weapons came from, and responded: “Well, the Russians supply them, others are supplying them with those chemical weapons. They make some themselves.”

Advertisement

When pressed on the issue, a Pentagon spokesperson clarified Hagel’s remarks Wednesday evening with this statement:

In a response to a member of Congress, Secretary Hagel was referring to the well-known conventional arms relationship between Syria and Russia. The Syrian regime has a decades-old largely indigenous chemical weapons program. Currently, Russia provides the Syrian regime a wide variety of military equipment and support, some of which can be modified or otherwise used to support the chemical weapons program. We have publicly and privately expressed our concern over the destabilizing impact on the Syrian conflict and the wider region of continued military shipments to the Assad regime.

Hagel's initial statement comes at a particularly tricky time for U.S.-Russian relations. Russia’s support for the Assad regime in Syria has further strained an already fractious relationship, as President Obama makes the case for military action in Syria. Further complicating matters is that the G-20 summit is set to begin in St. Petersburg on Thursday. President Obama is attending, but is not scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama had been scheduled to meet with Putin privately before the summit, but canceled in the wake of Russia’s granting Edward Snowden asylum.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

What Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Remarks Reveal About Her 2016 Fears

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.