On the call with reporters, Rhodes said the administration has “already taken action increased support and types of support” to the Syrian political and military opposition.
“We’re looking at a wide range of types of support we provide,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to detail every type of support we’re providing.”
When asked why the White House seemed to lack urgency on the issue, Rhodes said “there is an urgency to the situation — there has been an urgency to the situation for two years.”
The United Nations reported today that the death toll in Syria is over 92,000.
Rhodes said Assad ally Russia had been “briefed” on the findings, and said the White House would continue to consult with the Kremlin, including at the upcoming G8 summit.
“The use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons,” Rhodes said. “We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.”
“The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available. We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline. Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity.”
The White House announcement comes as Syrian government forces are believed to be preparing for a major assault on the city of Aleppo.