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WASHINGTON (AP) ó U.S. and other diplomatic officials say discussions within the Obama administration in favor of providing arms to the Syrian rebels are gaining ground amid new indications that President Bashar Assad's regime may have launched additional chemical weapons attacks.

As the number of suspected attacks grows, U.S. officials say intelligence agencies are seeing signs that Syrian opposition forces may be distancing themselves from the al-Qaida-linked group there. That would chip away at one of the key arguments against giving lethal aid to the rebels.

Officials insisted Wednesday that no decisions have been made but said arming the rebels is seen as more likely and preferable than any other military option. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss publicly the options under consideration.