Hagel confirms WH reconsidering military aid to Syrian rebels

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel confirmed that the United States was considering offering military aid to the Free Syrian Army, that country’s opposition forces.

The defense secretary made this announcement during a joint press conference with his British counterpart aired on CNN, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

This confirms a statement made Tuesday by a senior White House official to the Washington Post that the administration was considering a wide array of options from “arming the opposition to boots on the ground.”

He continued, “We’re clearly on an upward trajectory. We’ve moved over to assistance that has a direct military purpose.”

Up until now, the U.S. has offered strictly non-lethal aid to the rebel forces. Since at least August, the president has claimed that the Assad regime’s use of chemical or biological weapons would be a “game changer,” also referring to it as a “red line” that must not be crossed.

Although the use of sarin gas was confirmed Thursday, the president continued to vacillate on the idea of providing military aid. At a rare Monday press conference he said that, ”we don’t know how [the chemical weapons] were used, when they were used, who used them.”

During Thursday’s joint press conference, Hagel said with respect to Syria, “We must continue to look at options, and present those options based on all contingencies.”

When asked whether the White House was rethinking its opposition to arming the rebel forces, Hagel answered with a firm, unequivocal, “Yes.”

Read more at the Washington Free Beacon and watch the video.


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