WASHINGTON, USA – The United States will provide “military support” to Syrian rebels, an official said Thursday, June 13, after concluding the Syrian regime used chemical weapons to quash the rebellion.
“The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition. That will involve providing direct support to the (rebel) Supreme Military Council. That includes military support,” said deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who didn’t offer details.
Senior Republican US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham welcomed the administration’s move on the issue, but said in a statement that “more decisive actions” were now needed to end the spiraling violence in Syria.
“It’s been reported to me by reliable sources that the president… has decided, he’s reached the conclusion that they used chemical weapons, and that they are going to provide arms to the rebels,” McCain told reporters.
“Since he hadn’t announced it, he may reverse that. But I’ve been told that that’s the case.”
Earlier, a US defense official said the United States would keep F-16 fighter jets and Patriot anti-missile weapons in Jordan – which borders Syria – after a joint military exercise ends this month.
The US, working with European allies, on Thursday said the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against the rebels, killing up to 150 people.
The declaration means that Syria has crossed what President Barack Obama has called a “red line,” prompting his administration to announce an increase in “non-lethal” support to those opposing the Damascus regime of Bashar al-Assad.
“Our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year,” Rhodes said in a White House statement. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com