Now that the US has determined that Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons, the Obama administration intends to help arm Syrian rebels, officials tell the New York Times. The US will send light arms and ammunition; antitank weapons are also a possibility. Rebel leaders have called for antiaircraft weapons, but Washington currently has no plans to send those, officials say. "The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has," a top national security official tells the Washington Post.
"Suffice it to say this is going to be different in both scope and scale," adds Benjamin Rhodes. President Obama won't, however, send ground troops, and he has "not made any decision" on strategies like a no-fly zone. The CIA will be in charge of delivery, with weapons likely flown to Turkey or Jordan then taken via rebel-controlled routes into Syria, the Post notes. The US remains in favor of political negotiation to end the violence, Rhodes says. But many in Washington fear that Assad now has a clear upper hand and the military aid is coming too late, the Times notes; some in the State Department are urging airstrikes against key Assad sites.