The Obama Administration has agreed to arm the Syrian rebels. The Administration is also now directly accusing the Assad regime of using chemical weapons.
The Obama administration announced Thursday that it has determined that the Syrian government has deployed chemical weapons against opposition groups, crossing what President Obama had called a “red line” and prompting him to provide direct military aid to the Syrian opposition groups for the first time.
White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that the president has decided to step up “military support” to the main opposition group, the Supreme Military Council, to bolster its effectiveness, but declined to “inventory” what equipment would be provided.
But a government official knowledgeable about the plans confirmed to USA TODAY that the new assistance would include arming the rebels. The official was not authorized to speak and did so on condition of anonymity.
Furthermore, the White House is not ruling out a no-fly zone.
Rhodes said that the president has not made any decisions to implement a no-fly zone, as he did in Libya in as part of an international effort to oust Moammar Gadhafi. But Rhodes underscored that White House officials believe the most effective action they can take to improve the situation on the ground is to strengthen the opposition.
“A no-fly zone … would carry with it great and open-ended costs for the United States and the international community,” Rhodes said. “It would be far more complex to undertake that effort in Syria than it was in Libya. Furthermore, there’s not a clear guarantee that it would dramatically improve the situation on the ground.”
Several members of the Senate are also calling for more forceful actions including air strikes in support of the rebels.
Either way, the march to war has begun.