TODAY   |  June 14, 2013

White House: Syria used chemical weapons

After publicly declaring Syrian president Bashar al Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people, senior officials say the U.S. will now provide direct lethal aid to opposition forces. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now to the new developments in syria that u.s. officials acknowledge are a game changer. the u.s. is stepping up military support of rebels after finding conclusive evidence that the syrian government used chemical weapons against the opposition. chuck todd has the latest on this. chuck, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. this comes after months of deliberations. growing pressure on the white house to do something, not just from republican hawks like john mccain but also from democrats including bill clinton . so yesterday the white house announced incremental steps to help the opposition in hopes that this will turn the tide. the white house today facing growing pressure after publicly declaring that the syrian president has used chemical weapons including deadly gas against his own people. the u.s. intelligence assessment estimates 150 syrian rebels and citizens have been killed in the chemical attacks. for months president obama warned the use of chemical weapons would cross a line and trigger a u.s. response. the u.s. will provide lethal aid including unspecified military support but john mccain that recently met with the opposition in syria says that may not be enough.

>> the way this issue has been handled is disgraceful. i understand that americans were weary but this is a regional conflict.

>> reporter: they'll have further steps which could be additional aid or enforcement of a no fly zone. there's no talk of putting troops on the ground because the public is skeptical. just 15% of americans believe the u.s. should use military force .

>> and chuck, there is growing pressure on the administration to act. we just saw the poll numbers. there's not a lot of appetite in the country for deepening the involvement of the u.s. into this conflict.

>> in fact, in the last poll we just conducted we anticipated something like this. just 1 in 4 americans support the idea of either having direct military involvement or arming the opposition. it's unbelievable. a majority, a large majority, over 70% either want the u.s. to do nothing, stand aside or only provide humanitarian aid . this is one of those issues it's the exact same no matter if you just look at democrats or republicans or independents this is across the board. john mccain said this is a war weary country and you see it when you ask questions like this about involvement in syria .