President Obama said at a press conference Tuesday that confirmation Assad’s regime crossed his “red line” would prompt him to consider a “range of options” that have not yet been used.
Hagel emphasized Thursday that the situation is not a static one, and would not say whether he personally supported providing arms to the rebels.
“I’m in favor of exploring options and seeing what is the best option,” Hagel said.
Last year, Obama rejected a proposal to provide arms to vetted Syrian rebel groups that was backed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director David Petraeus and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
There is concern about providing arms to rebel groups because the opposition is splintered and contains groups affiliated with al Qaeda.
The White House’s disclosure last week that it has intelligence assessments that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons have sparked new calls for arming rebel groups and establishing a no-fly zone.
The administration is proceeding with caution toward military steps, however, citing the problems with intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War.
For more on Hagel's comments, click here.