A national security spokesperson confirmed the Obama administration will be discussing the possibility of sending military aid to the Syrian Free Army in their civil war against the Russian-backed Assad regime.
Although the president has made no firm commitment, arming what have been vetted as “moderate” units of the SFA appears to be the direction the president is headed, according to CNN.
Also on the agenda, though less likely, will be the possibility of setting up a Syrian no-fly zone.
CNN’s Elise Labott reported:
The interagency discussions come as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made gains against the opposition in the past few weeks, including capturing Qusayr, the embattled town near the border with Lebanon. Also, Hezbollah has become more active in the fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime. The opposition has warned the Obama administration that without immediate support, they could face crippling losses.
White House officials advise that Secretary of State John Kerry has put his Middle East trip on hold in order to participate in the discussions.
“At the president’s direction, his national security team continues to consider all possible options that would accomplish our objectives of helping the Syrian opposition serve the essential needs of the Syrian people and hastening a political transition to a post-Assad Syria,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.
“We have prepared a wide range of options for the president’s consideration, and internal meetings to discuss the situation in Syria are routine,” she continued. “The United States will continue to look for ways to strengthen the capabilities of the Syrian opposition, though we have no new announcements at this time.”
With Kerry and newly-appointed National Security Advisor Susan Rice participating, I don’t see what could possibly go wrong. Perhaps Attorney General Eric Holder could be asked provide his “Fast and Furious” expertise.
It’s unclear from the CNN report how the administration vetted “moderate” rebel units from extremists. I only note this because Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was recently photographed with what he thought was a group of moderate rebels, and two of them were later identified as having kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims.
With the U.S. sending weapons to the Syrian rebels, and the Russians supporting the other side, it’ll be just like old times.
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