Obama: Syrian Chemical Weapons Could Threaten US Security

US President Obama. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten

US President Obama. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten

The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in that nation’s civil war increases the risk that such weapons could endanger the United States and its allies, President Barack Obama said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, The Washington Post is reporting that Obama is considering sending lethal arms to the Syrian opposition.

The US, Israel and others have long been concerned that Syria’s chemical weapons could reach terrorists currently in Syria. Obama, according to a transcript of his comments posted on the White House website, said if the Syrian regime did use chemical weapons that is “an escalation, in our view, of the threat to the security” to the US and others.

One group fighting against the Syrian government has links to al-Qaeda, and there have long been connections between Syria and various terror groups. That increases the danger that terrorists could acquire chemical weapons and use them in the US, Europe or elsewhere.

Chemical weapons, such as the Sarin gas Israel thinks may have been used in Syria, are capable of harming large numbers of people and kills in what Obama called “the most inhumane way possible.” Sarin, for example, eventually stops its victims from being able to breathe.

Obama said the regime’s using chemical weapons is “a game-changer because what that portends is potentially even more devastating attacks on civilians, and it raises the strong possibility that those chemical weapons can fall into the wrong hands and get disseminated in ways that would threaten U.S. security or the security of our allies.”

Obama said the US defense establishment has been asked to prepare options possibly available to the US President in dealing with the Syrian crisis. He refused to go into details, but The Washington Post said that the US is open to sending weapons to the rebels in Syria to help them defeat the regime, although a decision has not been made on the issue yet. The Washington Post said that the rebels have asked for anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

That would stop short of the US going to war in Syria, but it would mean more US tax dollars going to the conflict—in this case directing arming the rebels there. The US has already sent or promised hundreds of millions of dollars to provide humanitarian aid and non-lethal support to the rebel forces.

Obama did say the US has evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria, but that they don’t know who used them, how or when. He said they are working to establish more facts, not only for the US to know what happened, but also for the international community. Obama said they want the world to “support” what’s done in response to the chemical weapons in Syria.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 1, 2013)

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