“In the case of Syria…some officials continue to worry that the risks of intervention — both in American lives and in setting off a broader conflict, potentially involving Turkey — are too great to justify action. Others argue that more aggressive steps are justified in Syria by the loss in life there, the risks that its chemical weapons could get loose and the opportunity to deal a blow to Iran’s only ally in the region.
“[A] small number of C.I.A. officers have operated secretly in southern Turkey for several months…helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border would receive shipments of weapons.
“The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries overseen mainly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar…. Even that limited effort is being revamped in the wake of evidence that most of the arms sent to Syrian opposition fighters are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, not the more secular opposition groups supported by the West.
“American officials say the administration is now weighing whether the United States should play a more direct role in supplying the opposition fighters with weapons to help ensure that the arms reach the intended groups.”