White House inches closer to arming Syrian rebels

MGN Online
Monday, June 10, 2013 - 8:37am

The possibility of sending weapons to Syrian rebels is on the agenda for White House meetings this week, Obama administration officials confirmed Monday.

The officials stressed no decisions have been made, but said President Barack Obama is inching closer to signing off on arming vetted, moderate, rebel units.

The White House meetings also will look at a possible no-fly zone, although the officials said that is less likely.

The interagency discussions come as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made gains against the opposition in the past few weeks -- including capturing the key supply-line city of Qusayr last week -- and as Hezbollah has become more active in the fighting on behalf of the Assad regime.

The opposition has warned the Obama administration that without immediate support, they could face crippling losses.

Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a planned trip this week to the Middle East so he can participate in the meetings, the officials said.

"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 said. "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."

CNN's Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

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