Hours after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. is considering arming Syrian rebels, President Obama agreed that his administration is looking “at all options.”
“What Secretary Hagel said today is what I’ve been saying now for months,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in Mexico City. “We are continually evaluating the situation on the ground, working with our international partners to find the best way to move a political transition that has Assad leaving, stabilizes the country, ends the killing and allows the Syrian people to determine their own destiny.”
Mr. Obama has been refining his stance on Syria since reports last week indicated the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in the two-year civil war. The president previously had said the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” that he won’t tolerate.
But the president also has said he wants the international community to verify the use of chemical weapons before the U.S. would take any direct action in the conflict.
The president said he wants to make sure that the U.S. doesn’t inadvertently contribute to a “long, bloody sectarian war.”
“We know that there are countries that are currently providing lethal aid to the opposition,” Mr. Obama said. “We also know that the [Bashar] Assad regime is getting not just lethal aid but also training and support from countries outside of Syria. And we want to evaluate and make sure that every step that we take advances the day when Assad is gone and you have people inside of Syria who are able to determine their own destiny rather than engage in a long, bloody sectarian war, and you know, we’ll continue to evaluate that every step of the way.”