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.