In April, Israel said it had proof that Assad used chemical weapons against the rebels in the Syrian civil war, and the Obama administration now agrees. That conclusion will be used to justify increasing non-lethal aid to the rebels, the White House said today.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in a statement that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that between 100 and 150 Syrians died from the chemical weapons use.
“Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the President has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council,” Rhodes said.
Syrian use of chemical weapons crosses Obama’s self-declared “red line,” and the administration is considering military action.
Not surprisingly, Republican hawks John McCain and Lindsey Graham have called for the U.S. to establish a no-fly zone to protect rebel-held areas.
The Syrian conflict is complicated and it’s not as easy as saying “Assad is bad, so the rebels are good.” The rebels are not a homogenous group of pro-West freedom fighters, as some might have you believe.
If the rebels take over Syria, it isn’t clear who exactly would be in charge or how they would rule. Any support for the rebels needs to take into careful consideration the possible consequences of a rebel-governed Syria.