On the day the US confirmed it is indeed considering arming the rebels, forces loyal to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad stormed a coastal village causing scores of civilian casualties.
The pro-opposition monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the death toll in Baida is expected to exceed 100. The group claims many of those killed appeared to have been executed by shooting or stabbing, and other bodies were found burned.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Obama Administration has not come to a decision on arming Syrian Rebels. President Obama has said that any use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would change the US’s involvement, and that was apparently confirmed last week.
“Any country, any power, any international coalition, in partnership, is going to continue to look at options, how best to accomplish those objectives,” Mr. Hagel said, referring to ousting the Assad regime.
The White House reportedly has growing confidence in the commander of the opposition’s Supreme Military Council. General Salim Idriss is a German-trained former professor who defected from the Syrian Army last year.
However, the rebel movement includes Islamist militant factions. Hagel and President Obama must also consider the possibility that American weapons could wind up in the hands of terrorists who might turn them against Western interests. Imagine Vladimir Putin’s reaction if US Weapons make their way through jihadist channels to Chechnya or Dagestan, just in time for the Sochi Winter Olympics. He would be really, really unhappy.