A group of Syrian activists extended a long,
symbolic red line in front of the White House Sunday in a call for the Obama
administration to respond aggressively to the Syrian regime's alleged use of
The Syrian American Council, a U.S.-based group that
supports the Syrian opposition, organized a series of events in the Washington
area over the weekend and coordinated the White House protest. The group's sign,
directed at President Barack Obama,
reads "Your credibility is on the line."
Obama gave no indication that his administration
would change its calculus on whether or not to more aggressively support the
armed Syrian opposition with lethal aid during his April 30 press conference. He did promise
to continue to investigate what are now at least four instances of alleged
chemical weapons use in Syria, two of which the U.S. intelligence community has
said it can confirm, albeit with various degrees of confidence and with
questions about who might be the perpetrator.
"And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used
inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who
used them; we don't have chain of custody that establishes what exactly
happened," Obama said. ""Obviously, there are options that are
available to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed, and
that's a spectrum of options... And I won't go into the details of what those
options might be."
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the administration is
considering providing arms to the rebels but that a decision isn't likely for
several weeks, as Obama prepares to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in
June. Secretary of State John Kerry
is set to travel to Moscow soon.
National Security Staff spokeswoman Caitlin
Hayden said that the administration is now discussing non-lethal military
aid to the Syrian opposition, such as body armor and night-vision goggles, but
no final decisions have been made on lethal assistance.
"As the president has said, our assistance to
the Syrian opposition has been on an upward trajectory, and he has directed his
national security team to identify additional measures so that we can continue
to increase our assistance," she said. "We continue to consider all other
possible options that would accomplish our objective of hastening a political
transition, but have no new announcements at this time."