Obama to send anti-chemical equipment to Syria opposition

Sept. 16, 2013 at 5:33 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- President Obama Monday signed an order allowing non-lethal, anti-chemical warfare equipment to be sent to the Syrian opposition, the White House said.

The equipment would also go to experts monitoring the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stores.

The United States and other Western and gulf powers say the Assad regime used sarin gas to kill more than 1,400 people in August, more than 400 of them children, in that country's ongoing civil war.

A White House statement said the president signed a "presidential determination" to waive "certain restrictions under the Arms Export Control Act."

The non-lethal assistance includes "chemical weapons-related personal protective equipment [being sent] to international organizations, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for the conduct of their operations." That would include experts monitoring the removal and destruction of chemical weapons under an agreement reached by the United States and Russia.

The equipment would include "chemical weapons-related life-saving assistance for organizations implementing Department of State or U.S. Agency for International Development programs to strengthen local Syrian healthcare providers' ability to prepare for and respond to any use of chemical weapons."

Finally, the White House said the equipment would include "defensive chemical weapons-related training and personal protective equipment to select vetted members of the Syrian opposition, including the [Western-allied] Supreme Military Council, to protect against the use of chemical weapons. This action is part of longstanding and ongoing efforts to provide life-saving chemical weapons-related assistance to people in need in Syria."

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