The Washington Times - May 7, 2013, 11:15AM

Fresh off his golf outing with President Obama, Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, predicted Tuesday that the United States will start arming rebel forces in Syria in the near future in hopes of ousting President Bashar Assad.

The ranking GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Corker said it is time for the Obama administration to “change the balance” in the ongoing conflict.

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“I do think we will be arming the opposition shortly,” Mr. Corker said on “CBS This Morning.” “We are doing a lot more there on the ground than really is known, but we do have to change the equation.”

The Obama White House has been reluctant to arm opposition forces in Syria out of the fear that the weapons would fall into the hands of extremist elements in the opposition and that the move could pull the U.S. into a proxy war.

The pressure, though, has been building on the Obama administration to change its policy, with the death toll climbing past 70,000, according to the United Nations, and following reports that said U.S. intelligence agencies believe Mr. Assad may have used chemical weapons on his own people.

Mr. Corker said the U.S. now has has a better understanding of the groups that are most closely aligned with the rebel interests.

“We have known for a long time which of the groups are more moderate and more secular,” Mr. Corker said. “You never have total control, but I think it is time for us to begin changing the balance, and I think that is the right way to do it.”