US' move to arm Syrian rebels poignant in aftermath of Aleppo attack
Syrian army soldiers standing on an army tank in the village of Buweida, north of Qusayr, in Syria's central Homs province on Friday. AFP photo
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The United States could imminently make a decision over its choice to arm the Syrian rebels, officials said on Monday, as it was announced that US Secretary of State John Kerry was postponing a Middle Eastern tour to attend the discussions.
The issue of arming the Syrian opposition has been a hot topic within the Obama administration for months. As of yet, the ruling powers have decided against arming Syrian President Bashar Assad's opposition, due to fears over whose hands the arms would end up in.
A US official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity said that although the subject of arming the rebels is likely to be brought up within the White House this week, deliberations over the issue or the enforcing of any decision made would likely take a lot longer.
The same source added that Kerry had put off his planned visit to Israel and Palestine on hold so that he could be part of the discussions.
It is likely that the flurry of gains and successes made by the Assad regime in Syria over the past two weeks have spurred the US towards making a decision over arming the rebels.
The battle seems to be uphill for the beleaguered Syrian rebels, as the Assad regime, propped up by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, has made significant gains over the past two weeks, including securing the strategic town of Qusayr.
Shortly after it was announced that the US would deliberate over providing assistance to the rebels, reports from inside Syria siad that the regime had launched an offensive against the northern province of Aleppo, where many of the rebels have been staying.
The recent ground developments in Syria may be significantly jeopardising the likelihood of the previously planned US-Russian peace conference over Syria.
The negotiations sought to bring both regime and rebel representatives to the discussion table, with a view of organising a political transition that would remove Assad from power.
However, now that his troops have been making gains in the long held rebel-bastions in Syria, it seems unlikely that Assad would have any incentive to participate in the international talks.