The US is rethinking arming Syrian opposition fighters, Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel said. Speaking at a Pentagon news conference, he
stressed the Obama administration is considering a range of options.
Asked directly if the administration was reconsidering its
opposition to that option, Hagel said "yes". "Arming
the rebels — that's an option," he said. "We must continue
to look at options."
“These are options that must be considered with partners,
with the international community: What is possible, what can help
accomplish these objectives,” Hagel said.
At the same time, he stressed that he has not personally decided
whether it would be wise to provide weapons to the rebels.
Meanwhile President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he is
considering “all options” in response to the alleged use of
chemical weapons in Syria.
"As we've seen evidence of further bloodshed, potential use
of chemical weapons inside of Syria, what
I've said is that we're
going to look at all options," he said at a press conference
during a visit to Mexico.
"We are continually evaluating the situation on the ground,
working with our international partners to find the best way to
move a political transition."
The statement by Hagel coincided with negotiations between the
United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and UN chief Ban
Ki-moon on “possible diplomatic moves to end" the Syria
While diplomats declined to comment on the meeting with the
secretary-general, Reuters reports that a dispute between Russia
and the United States over Syria has left the council
Russia insists on an investigation into reports of the use of
chemical weapons near Aleppo, Syria, in March, but said that the
UN’s demand to check all facilities in the country “is
incorrect” and “undermines the goal of an immediate
investigation” according to Lavrov.
“We insist on satisfying the specific request from the
government of Syria for an investigation into this incident,”
Lavrov told a news conference in Budapest. “[It] is very
reminiscent of the resolutions that the UN Security Council was
passing on Iraq.”
President Obama has repeatedly called the use of chemical
weapons in Syria a "red line" that could prompt US action if
Meanwhile, almost simultaneously reports emerged about an
alleged massacre by "state forces and militants loyal to
President Assad” who stormed Syria's coastal village of Baida,
according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The watchdog claimed that at least 50 people were killed
"including women and children" and suggested the final toll
may exceed 100 dead. Many of those killed were executed by gunfire
or knives, and other bodies were found burned, the Observatory
alleged on Thursday.
Independent researcher and author, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, told
RT it is no wonder the US is going down the path of arming the
Syrian rebels directly. She believes it to be a natural progression
from what has been taking place in the two years since the start of
“I think they’re disappointed that the Assad regime has not
fallen fast enough and it had always been the intention not only to
dismantle the Syrian army and render it useless, but for Assad to
leave and this hasn’t happened. So, in order to boost support for
the intervention, they need to come up with all sorts of stories,
such as the use of chemical weapons.”