Insiders: Obama Ready to Arm Syrian Rebels

President planning more aggressive Syria policy, officials say

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2013 2:58 AM CDT | Updated May 1, 2013 6:02 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama may not have sounded very threatening during yesterday's White House press conference, but senior administration officials say he is planning a much more aggressive line on Syria, the Washington Post reports. The president is planning to supply the Syrian opposition with lethal weaponry for the first time, and plans for the US to take a leading role among allies seeking to get rid of President Bashar al-Assad, officials say.

"We’re clearly on an upward trajectory," according to a senior official, who says Obama is "ready to move" and is weighing all options, including a no-fly zone and even boots on the ground. “We’ve moved over to assistance that has a direct military purpose," the official says. The president will make a decision on sending arms to Syria rebels within weeks, before a June meeting with Vladimir Putin in which he will try to persuade the Russian leader that Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons should be enough for him to stop supporting Assad.

President Obama answers questions during a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House yesterday.
President Obama answers questions during a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House yesterday.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, during an event to promote hiring military veterans.
President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, during an event to promote hiring military veterans.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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