Obama may allow air defense help for Syria rebels

Barack Obama

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A U.S. official says President Barack Obama is considering allowing shipments of air defense systems to the Syrian opposition.

The move would constitute a reversal of Obama’s earlier opposition to introducing the weaponry into the conflict.

Saudi Arabia is sure to welcome the potential step. The Saudis has been pressing the White House to allow the man-portable air-defense systems, known as “manpads,” into Syria. Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday evening and is meeting with King Abdullah.

Allowing manpads to be delivered to Syrian rebels would mark a shift in strategy for the U.S., which until this point has limited its assistance to humanitarian aid and small weapons and ammunition.

The official insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the internal deliberations by name.

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