Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday the Obama administration is rethinking its policy of opposing providing weapons to the Syrian rebels.
Hagel's acknowledgment - after weeks of the U.S. resisting arming the opposition, for fear the weapons could end up in the wrong hands - comes days after the White House sent a letter to two U.S. senators saying the intelligence community assessed "with varying degrees of confidence" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government had used the chemical agent sarin on a "small scale."
President Obama, asked about Hagel's remarks, said he was only reiterating a position the administration has held for months. "We are continually evaluating the situation on the ground working with our international partners to find the best way to move a political transition that has Assad leaving, stabilizes the country, ends the killing and allows the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, " the president said during a press conference in Mexico.
"As we've seen evidence of further bloodshed, potential use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, what I've said is that we're gonna look at all options," Obama said.
But for months the administration has resisted calls by some members of Congress and U.S. allies to send lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.
Hagel and other officials stress that no decision has been made to send such assistance.
Hagel's remarks Thursday were prompted by questions from CNN's Barbara Starr.