WH: President considering sending weapons to Syrian rebels

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House April 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The president took questions on a variety of subjects including immigration reform, the ongoing civil war in Syria and the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla

(CBS News) President Barack Obama says he's in no rush to take military action in Syria, but on Tuesday night administration officials said the president is considering sending weapons to the Syrian rebels.

There seem to be some mixed messages from the White House, CBS News' Clarissa Ward reported on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. Syrian opposition members CBS News has spoken with know of no plan to arm Syrian rebels on the ground. But Mr. Obama seemed to indicate in his press conference on Tuesday that the use of chemical weapons has not been explored enough, and that it raises more questions than it answers.

Hezbollah warns of possible Syria involvement

Mr. Obama said Tuesday: "(And) what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them; we don't have chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened."

As the president spoke, more videos emerged online of people claiming to have been exposed to chemical weapons. As with all such claims thus far, they are impossible to verify. But that has not stopped panic from spreading inside Syria where fears of a large-scale chemical attack are growing.

In a letter obtained by CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan, the leader of the Free Syrian Army Gen. Salim Idriss asked President Obama for support from the U.S. in dealing with the threat of chemical weapons and warned of the cost of inaction: "...I respectfully submit to you that Assad is not taking your carefully-phrased condemnations as warnings, but as loopholes, which justify his continued use of chemical weapons on a small, strategic scale..."

The president has said that, if confirmed, the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer. "By game-changer, I mean that we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us," Mr. Obama said.

The president would not be drawn on what those options might be, but suggestions have included arming moderate factions of the rebellion or enforcing a no-fly zone.

On Tuesday, the leader of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite organization, which the U.S. views as a terrorist organization, warned the rebels on the ground that they have no hope of defeating Assad militarily, because the Assad regime has "real friends." This is raising fears this has turned into a proxy war that is rapidly spilling across Syria's borders.

Watch Clarissa Ward's full report in the video above.