The New York Times reports:
I wonder if the weapons the rebels will receive would be legal for a resident of New York or California to own? I'm guessing probably not. In fact, I'm guessing that they will be weapons that are prohibited or restricted under the National Firearms Act. So, what Obama is saying is that he trusts a bunch of Al Qaeda associated rebels in Syria more than he trusts American citizens.
The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials.
The officials held out the possibility that the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they said that for now supplying the antiaircraft weapons that rebel commanders have said they sorely need is not under consideration.
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Mr. Rhodes said there was no reason to think that the resistance has access to chemical weapons. “We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons,” he said.
According to a C.I.A. report, which was described by an American official who declined to be identified, the United States has acquired blood, urine and hair samples from two Syrian rebels — one dead and one wounded — who were in a firefight with Syrian government forces in mid-March northeast of Damascus. The samples showed that the rebels were exposed to sarin.
When the White House first disclosed its suspicions about the use of chemical weapons in April, Mr. Obama said he would defer action until an investigation found more conclusive evidence that established a “chain of custody” in the use of the gas.
The United States, working with Britain, France and Israel, was able to compile evidence that Syrian officials had planned and executed a string of chemical weapons attacks in Aleppo, Damascus and two other cities.