President Obama on Friday didn’t address his administration’s assertion that Syria had used chemical weapons — and crossed his so-called red line for intervention in the civil war there — instead leaving his surrogates to fend off a series of unanswered questions about U.S. aid being prepared for the Syrian rebels.
Administration officials told The Washington Examiner that the U.S. would send light arms and ammunition in coming weeks to anti-government forces in Syria. Yet, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes Friday still wouldn’t tell reporters what supplies were being sent to Syrian rebels or how they would get there.
Obama had a Father’s Day luncheon Friday but never got close enough to pool reporters to field questions about his Syria response.
In the daily press briefing, Rhodes said Obama hasn’t spoken about Syria since the U.S. accused President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of chemical-weapons use because the situation was “evolving.” Rhodes said the public should stay tuned for the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, which the president will leave for on Sunday evening.
“You can fully expect that the president will be heard on these issues repeatedly in coming days,” Rhodes said, previewing the gathering of international leaders.
But critics are questioning why the president himself isn’t providing a clearer picture of the administration’s response to Syria, a decision Obama has toiled over for months.
“The American people need to hear directly from the president on this,” a GOP Senate aide told The Washington Examiner. “Why isn’t he the one outlining the White House’s response?”
In essence, administration officials are trying to keep Obama from getting ahead of his own message at the G-8 gathering, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others. The Russians remain skeptical of U.S. intelligence assessments in Syria.
White House officials offered few additional details about their internal deliberations on Syria. However, Rhodes did seem to dismiss the idea of no-fly zone in Syria, arguing Friday that it wasn’t a “silver bullet” for stopping the violence there.