President Barack Obama (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
The Obama administration declined to send Syrian opposition groups gas masks and other chemical-weapons protection gear despite numerous requests before this month's chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, the Daily Beast reports.
Abo Saleem, the directing commission secretary of the Council of Homs Province and a member of the political bureau of the Revolutionary Council of Homs, told the web site that the requests for protective geargoes back more than a year, but they were repeatedly refused.
An unnamed senior Obama administration official told The Daily Beast that the White House did review the issue last year and determined it wouldn't provide the equipment to the Syria opposition becauseof concerns the equipment could get into the wrong hands.
"The provision of protective gear for the opposition sounds like an easy idea, but we need consider the potential for misuse as well," the official said. "Such equipment requires proper training to be effective, and we need to be careful about how and to whom we provide it."
President Obama is weighing whether to carry out a limited military strike against the Bashar Assad regime, which he said U.S. intelligence officials have concluded is responsible for carrying out the Aug. 21 attack which reportedly killed hundreds and injured thousands.
The administration is expected to release an unclassified report this week detailing its findings of the last week's suspected chemical attack.
Obama confirmed in June that intelligence officials had determined that the Syrians had likely used chemical weapons on a small scale.
Last year, Obama declared the use of deployment of chemical weapons was a "red line" that if crossed would spur tough action by his administration.