National Security Brief: Obama Reportedly Approves Body Armor For Syrian Rebels

CNN reported on Tuesday that President Obama has signed off on a new package of non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels.

Obama had reportedly been sitting on a recommendation by the National Security Council to give non-lethal assistance to the rebels such as body armor and night vision goggles — equipment the U.S. has thus far been unwilling to provide. But CNN notes that these could be included in the new package:

Officials said it is expected to include equipment such as body armor, night vision goggles and other military equipment that is defensive in nature, but could be used to aid in combat by Syrian rebels battling forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The package being discussed, however, still falls short of the heavy weapons and high tech equipment sought by the rebels.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with some Syrian opposition figures and said on Tuesday that the Obama administration still prefers a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Syria. “The problem is you can’t get there if President Assad is unwilling to decide that he should transfer that authority, and that’s the current situation,” Mr. Kerry said. “So we are left with no choice but to try to find ways to get him to think differently about what lies in the future.”


Meanwhile, the Washington Post has more on the civil war within the civil war in Syria (secular rebels battling Islamic extremist fighters) and PBS’s Frontline released a riveting documentary on Tuesday documenting “the perilous reality of everyday life for Syria’s rebels and its regime.”

In other news:

  • McClatchy has two new in-depth reports on the Obama administration’s drone program in Pakistan that debunk the White House’s claims that U.S. drone strikes there are targeting only top al-Qaeda leaders and also countering Pakistani attempts to distance themselves from the attacks.
  • The New York Times reports: Iran’s president announced an expansion of the country’s uranium production and claimed other atomic energy advances on Tuesday, striking a pugnacious tone in the aftermath of diplomatic talks that ended in an impasse with the big powers last weekend in Kazakhstan.
  • The Hill reports: Al Qaeda leaders are seeking recruits in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the West to make up the terror group’s “second generation” of Islamic militants, a top Pentagon official tells Congress.

(Photo: A resident documents the destruction in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Credit: Getty)