U.S. close to OK on arming Syrian rebels

U.S. close to OK on arming Syrian rebels

Moved by the Assad regime’s rapid advance, the Obama administration could decide this week to approve lethal aid for the beleaguered Syrian rebels and will weigh the merits of a less likely move to send in U.S. airpower to enforce a no-fly zone over the civil war-wracked nation, officials said Sunday.

White House meetings are planned over the coming days, asSyrian President Bashar Assad’s government forces are apparently poised for an attack on the key city of Homs, which could cut offSyria’s armed opposition from the south of the country. As many as 5,000 Hezbollah fighters are now in Syria, officials believe, helping the regime press on with its campaign after capturing the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border last week.

Opposition leaders have warned Washington that their rebellion could face devastating and irreversible losses without greater support, and the warnings are prompting the United States to consider drastic action.

Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a planned trip Monday to Israel and three other Mideast countries to participate in White House discussions, said officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

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