U.S. cites risk of bioweapon proliferation as reason to arm Syrian opposition

The U.S. State Department said on Monday it is working to arm the Syrian opposition, in part, because of a proliferation risk of Syria's chemical weapons to non-state actors.

Jen Psaki, the State Department's spokesperson, made the remarks on Monday during her daily press briefing. Psaki responded to questions related to a resolution prepared in the Senate that would allow the administration to arm Syrian rebels. Psaki said the department is eager to get every component of aid to the Syrian opposition as soon as possible.

When asked if providing the Syrian opposition could violate international law, Psaki cited the threat of chemical weapons getting into the wrong hands as one reason for justification.

"We are conscious of the increasing threat the conflict in Syria is posing to the interests of neighboring states, including the serious risk of the proliferation of Syria's chemical weapons to non-state actors in violation of U.N. Security Resolution 1540," Psaki said.

Psaki also discussed the regime of Bashar al-Assad's brutality against the Syrian people, which resulted in the deaths of more than 93,000 people, and the continued flow of foreign fighters and arms to the Assad regime from outside Syria.

She said that arming the opposition is meant to address the violations and potential violations of international law going on in Syria.

"Our assistance to the opposition is intended to address this range of concerns and to promote a Syrian-led political solution to the conflict in Syria," Psaki said.