U.S. and other diplomatic officials say discussions within the Obama administration in favor of providing arms to the Syrian rebels are gaining ground amid new indications that President Bashar Assad's regime may have launched additional chemical weapons attacks.
Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says eliminating Syria's air defenses would be the first step before inspectors could determine if the regime did indeed use chemical weapons.
"Once you've destroyed the Syrian military, you're in Iraq in a sense," Landis says. "We were criticized in Iraq because we only had 100,000 troops to protect an entire country."
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with the war in Syria and the possibility of U.S. involvement. Today, in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used the opportunity of May Day to make a rare public appearance. He visited a power plant and said, we hope that by this time next year, we will have overcome the crisis in our country.
Members of a combined Afghan and coalition security force collected a cache of weapons after clearing a known Haqqani network foreign fighter encampment site in Paktika province, Afghanistan - July 21, 2011.
The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty regulating the multi-billion dollar global arms trade Tuesday.
Iran, North Korea and Syria voted "no" on Tuesday, while Russia and China, both major arms exporters, abstained.
Suzette Grillot is the co-author of the 2009 book The International Arms Trade. She says Syria opposed the treaty because it does nothing to prevent weapons from flowing to non-state actors, like the Syrian opposition.