The United States will supply Syrian rebels with weapons through a CIA-run program, FoxNews confirmed Saturday.
President Obama decided Thursday to supply rebel forces with small arms and ammunition, following confirmation that the regime of Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s has been using chemical weapons in the 2-year-long civil war in which at least 90,000 people have been killed.
In addition to supplying the weapons, the CIA will train rebel forces, Fox News also confirmed.
Obama vowed last summer to take action should the Assad cross a “red line” by using chemical weapons but has been challenged in verifying whether his forces used chemical weapons and in determining which rebel forces can be trusted.
However, the rebels being supplied with only small arms has disappointed some Capitol Hill lawmakers and other Americas who want a more robust response and who say the administration’s actions might be too little, too late as Assad forces appear to be taking control of the war.
Arizona Republican John McCain, a military hawk, wants much heavier arms, including anti-aircraft missiles to go after Assad’s air power.
The White House has still not decided whether to send anti-tank weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday explained the president’s decision to go beyond supplying humanitarian aid.
He told Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari that the use of chemical weapons, the militant group Hezbollah’s increasing support of Assad forces as well as the regime’s threats and lack of commitment to negotiate “put a political settlement out of reach,” according to the State Department.
The United States now has military equipment and roughly 5,000 troops in neighboring Jordan as part of an annual, multi-country military exercise known as Eager Lion. But the arming of the Syria rebels will happen in Turkey, another bordering county, military sources say.

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