US to supply lethal weapons to Syrian rebels: Report
Washington: Amid the US ramping up its international outreach for the next step in its effort to get rid of the Assad regime, a media report has said the Obama administration is preparing to supply lethal weapons to the Syrian opposition.
"We're clearly on an upward trajectory. We've moved over to assistance that has a direct military purpose," a senior administration official was quoted as saying by a leading daily.
The US has been adopting a tough stance against reported use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, and said it has been working with its allies to gather more evidence in this regard.
The Washington Post reported that the US is seriously moving towards supplying lethal arms to Syrian opposition.
So far, the US had been reluctant on this issue and had been supplying only non-lethal arms to the Syrian opposition.
The newspaper said the officials did not specify what US equipment is under consideration, although the rebels have specifically requested anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles.
This is part of the efforts of the Syrian opposition to protect the people from the Assad regime, which according to their estimates, have killed more than 70,000 people ever since the rebellion against the regime broke out last year.
The assistance of lethal weapons would be in addition to the non-lethal assistance and the training that the Jordanian and rebel forces to deal with the chemical weapons threat.
"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," National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said.
"The items to be supplied will be decided after consultations with the Supreme Military Command -- additional communications equipment, armour, night vision goggles, and vehicles -- are among the items that are being discussed," she said.