By Jeremy Herb - 05/01/13 05:49 PM EDT
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday declined to deny reports that President Obama is moving closer to providing arms to rebel groups in Syria.
In response to repeated questions on providing arms to opposition forces seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Carney would only say that Obama is considering all options.
“I’m not ruling that out; I’m just not ruling it in, either,” Carney said at Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“It is our policy. We have not and are not providing weapons to the Syrian opposition, but we are continuing to review our options.”
The possibility of arming the rebels comes as the administration continues to gather evidence over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, a move that would potentially cross a “red line” for Obama.
The administration said last week it had evidence of a chemical attack, but at a Tuesday press conference, the president sounded a cautious note on taking more aggressive actions against Syria.
Lawmakers from both parties have urged the administration to take action in the wake of the possible chemical attack by Assad’s forces. They have called for the establishment of a no-fly zone or safe zone in Syria as well as providing rebel groups with arms.
Carney said that the Obama administration has stepped up its non-lethal aid to rebel groups and has made an effort to learn more about the splintered opposition.
One of the chief concerns surrounding providing arms to rebel groups is that the arms will eventually fall in the hands of militant groups tied to al Qaeda.
“We have obviously been escalating assistance and broadened the type of assistance, and I think that represents a deeper engagement with the opposition,” Carney said. “I won’t foreshadow what actions will be taken in coming days, weeks and months, except to say we’ll evaluate all possible options.”