The United States joined 11 other nations Thursday in agreeing to "change the balance of power on the ground" in Syria.
At a meeting in Rome of the so-called "Friends of Syria," Secretary of State John Kerry said the US would for the first time provide non-lethal aid directly to rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"We do this because we need to stand on the side of those in this fight who want to see Syria rise again and see democracy and human rights," Kerry said.
Amr al-Azm, a member of the Syrian opposition here in the US and a professor at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, says called the move "an escalation."
The US has "finally come to the realization," says Azm, "that the only way to actually bring the regime to the negotiating table, to accepting a political resolution, is to actually degrade its military capability to the point where it sees no other option."
But it may be too little, too late.
"There's been a major, major shift in opinion (among Syrians)," says Azm, "against the United States and the west" because of the lack of aid up to now.