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Obama decides to arm Syrian rebels after chemical weapons proof

Published: Updated:

The White House said on Thursday that it will provide military assistance to the Syrian opposition after it has been concluded that the Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against his people and crossed what President Barack Obama had called a ‘red line.’

The Obama administration said it has provided Russia with the proof of the chemical weapons in Syria and that the subject will be discussed at an upcoming G8 summit.

The White House, in a statement issued late Thursday, said the use of chemical weapons “violates international norms and crosses clear red lines.”

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told the Associated Press: “We've prepared for many contingencies in Syria…We are going to make decisions on further actions on our own timeline.”

Earlier, a report by the New York Times said U.S. and European intelligence experts concluded that army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his people.

“The “intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year,” the Times reported, citing an “an internal memorandum circulating inside the government.”

President Obama said in April that there was evidence that gas Sarin was used in Syria but there was not enough proof. “He now believes that the proof is definitive,” the Times quoted American officials as saying.

The memorandum states that between 100 and 150 Syrians have been killed so far in chemical weapons attacks and that experts have “high confidence” in their assessment.

“Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information,” according to the memorandum.

The report has put pressure on Obama to take a decisive approach to the crisis in Syrian. His long-perceived lackluster policy towards the conflict has frayed U.S. relations with its allies in the Middle East and even in the West.

Last week a French diplomat told Al Arabiya of a “silent rift” between Paris and Washington over a declaration by France that chemical weapons were used in Syria. The diplomat said the United States did not want to declare that chemical weapons were used because that would put the Obama administration in a position to intervene.

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**White House: Obama will make decision on Syria based on U.S. interests