Corker responds to Obama administration's confirmation Assad used chemical munitions

The U.S. should provide arms and training to the Syrian opposition following the recent confirmation that Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime used chemical weapons, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on Thursday.

Corker, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the statement after President Obama's administration confirmed that Assad used chemical weapons against the opposition. Corker previously said that arming the Syrian opposition would be part of a strategy to strengthen moderate forces that could take over Syria after Assad.

"Official confirmation of Assad's use of chemical weapons heightens the urgency for the U.S. to provide the kind of decisive support, including arms and training, to vetted Syrian opposition groups as soon as possible," Corker said. "While some sources are reporting that a decision may have been made, I want to urge the president to exercise leadership by ensuring that strict safeguards are in place and publicly make the case to the American people for arming moderate forces."

On May 21, the Syria Transition Support Act of 2013, which supported the idea of providing lethal aid to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition, passed out of committee in a 15-3 vote.

"Such an effort would embrace the approach passed overwhelmingly by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and would acknowledge the enormous risks for the U.S. and region from the worsening conflict, which could lead to an extremist takeover," Corker said. "Without proposing direct military intervention, the committee's bipartisan legislation would help shift the balance in favor of moderate forces who can lead Syria after Assad and prevent further use of chemical weapons. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to advance U.S. interests in Syria."