Yesterday the Obama administration disclosed that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has in fact used chemical weapons repeatedly against Syrian rebels (and civilians) "on a small scale" and, at least according to unnamed officials, this has led the president to authorize the supply of weapons to vetted opposition forces. For the time being, according to the New York Times citing unnamed officials, "small arms and ammunition" is all on that's on offer, although there's a possibility of furnishing the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with anti-tank munitions in the future. Questions as to timescale and quantity of lethal material were left open, though here it should be noted that even the majority of the "non-lethal" aid promised months ago by Secretary of State John Kerry -- which did not include body armor or night-vision goggles -- has yet to reach the FSA.
Thus far, the debate as to whether or not to arm the rebels has suffered from two major flaws. The first is that even the most hawkish interventionists do not advocate sending anti-aircraft missiles to anti-Assad fighters, despite the fact this is the clearly the weapon most needed in order to shift the strategic balance in Syria. The second flaw is that, as the U.S. weighs its supply options to the opposition, it is paying too little attention to how the Assad regime is itself being armed and resupplied. Any swift and decisive decision to materially aid the Free Syrian Army will necessarily include degrading or destroying the runways and infrastructure of Syria's military airbases and commercial airports.