White House Announces U.S. Will Provide Military Support to Syrian Rebels

White House Announces U.S. Will Provide Military Support to Syrian Rebels


President Barack Obama has authorized sending U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time, a U.S. official said Thursday after the White House said it has proof the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against opposition forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reports. The White House said Washington would provide "direct military support" to the opposition but did not specify whether it would include lethal aid, which would mark a reversal of Obama's resistance to arming the rebels. But the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package would include weapons. The proposal also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who would train there. Meanwhile, a Syrian rebel group's pledge of allegiance to al Qaeda's replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group's influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Assad. The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.

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