by JASMINE ELSHAMY Photo & Video Editor
The U.S. government is waiting to see if the rumors of Syria using chemical weapons is true to take any action, possibly sending in military reinforcements for the protection of the rebels. Taking action may mean providing arms for the rebels, even though the Obama Administration is very resistant to taking that route.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s admission – after weeks of the United States resisting arming the opposition, for fear the weapons could end up in the wrong hands – comes days after a White House aide sent a letter to two U.S. senators saying the intelligence community assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government had used the chemical agent sarin on a “small scale”, according to CNN.
So far, the United States has provided communications and other harmless aid to the rebels fighting the regime of Assad in a two-year civil war. The administration recently announced that it would double that commitment to $250 million worth of assistance.
“As the President has said, our assistance to the Syrian opposition has been on an upward trajectory, and he has directed his national security team to identify additional measures so that we can continue to increase our assistance,” says National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We continue to consider all other possible options that would accomplish our objective of hastening a political transition, but have no new announcements at this time.”
A final decision on the composition of the boosted aid will be made after consultation with military commanders, but communications equipment, armor, night vision goggles, and vehicles are among items being discussed.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said that his government had not, and “would never use” chemical munitions – “if we had them.”
“I think that it’s pretty irresponsible of Syria to not admit to having chemical weaponry if they have it. I also feel that it’s just immature and annoying that this civil war is still going on. There are enough violence conflicts going on down there,” says junior Sam Horsch. “Imagine the Boston Marathon bombings happening every day and wondering if you’re next. That’s basically what it’s like for them.”
Obama said at a news conference on Tuesday that the United States would wait until it has more details on evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria before making any decision on whether to change strategy.
Obama previously called the use of chemical agents a “red line” for America. What that means has been a question since the administration disclosed last week that intelligence had concluded those arms had been used in small amounts.
Even though Syria is continuously denying their use of the chemical weaponry, military defenses are continuing to develop strategies and plans in the case that America has to intervene.
“I just think that all of this is really disappointing, and it’s really upsetting to see another country going through so much violence and have a threat like this upon them while most of the citizens of this country are ignorant and ungrateful to how lucky we are as Americans to have a democracy and a strong, fair leader like Obama,” says junior Stephanie Pasedwalt.