Washington, DC – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement in response to published reports that the U.S. may provide weapons to the Syrian opposition:
"What began as an expression of the legitimate aspiration of the Syrian people for better governance has now become a sectarian civil war in which extremist forces like Hezbollah and Iran fight on one side, and groups linked to al Qaeda commit atrocities on the other.
"I have grave concerns about the United States becoming an arms provider in this civil war. Supplying small arms and ammunition to certain rebel elements may help to stabilize the situation on the battlefield in the near term, but it will not alter the strategic balance. If and when this proves to be insufficient to affect the outcome, we will undoubtedly be called upon to provide even more powerful weaponry, to establish a no fly zone, or to risk American lives.
"The President is right to condemn the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons and we should work with the international community and Syrian opposition to degrade the regime's capacity to utilize those weapons and hold those who have responsible as war criminals. We must also be unstinting in our support of our regional partners who are hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees, and provide humanitarian parole to the many Syrian refugees with family in the United States who have approved immigration petitions. Finally, we should remain focused on a political settlement.
"Ultimately, this conflict cannot be solved by force, and we need to work to ensure that Geneva is the beginning of serious negotiations."