Defense Sec. Hagel: U.S. rethinking decision not to arm Syrian rebels
U.S. Defense Secretary says administration reconsidering its position, but no final decision taken yet; observer group fears up to 100 people killed in latest massacre by Assad regime.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday the Obama administration is rethinking its opposition to arming Syrian rebels but has not made a final decision.
Asked during a news conference whether the Obama administration was rethinking arming the rebels, Hagel said, "Yes." Asked why, he said, "You look at and rethink all options. It doesn't mean you do or you will."
Hagel was speaking at a Pentagon news conference with British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, who said any action should be based on "very high quality evidence" that would be admissible in a court of law.
State forces and militias loyal to President Bashar al-Assad committed a "massacre" when they stormed Syria's coastal village of Baida on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, killing at least 50 people including women and children.
The Observatory said the final toll was expected to exceed 100 dead. Many of those killed appeared to be executed by gunfire or knives, it said, and other bodies were found burned.