Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons Persuades Obama to Supply Arms to Rebels

The US has decided to provide Syrian rebels with small arms and ammunition after it confirmed that president Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been using chemical weapons in attacks during the civil war.

Bloomberg reported that Barack Obama has given a classified order to the CIA to arrange for the delivery of weapons to the Syrian opposition forces as he authorized lethal military aid to try and end the conflict.

Obama changed his stance on Syria after the opposition has begun to suffer at the hands of Assad’s forces who are receiving help from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor, explained to Bloomberg that “it’s particularly urgent right now in terms of the situation on the ground, in some respect, because we have seen Hezbollah and Iran increase their own involvement.”

A decision as to whether the US will supply the rebels with heavier, more powerful weapons, is still being discussed, with some fearing the consequences it they were to fall into terrorist hands.

A G8 summit planned in Northern Ireland next week will see world leaders discuss Syria as the main topic. Obama will meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia to try and persuade him to withdraw support for Assad. Obama may also try to work out a plan with European allies to provide more support to the rebels.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy aid, doubts the US claims that Assad has used chemical weapons in the war, and warned that by increasing support to the rebels the US now risks ruining attempts to organise an international peace conference to end the war in Syria next month.

This piece is cross-posted from Oil with permission.