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'Long overdue': Reactions to White House announcement on Syria

On Thursday, the White House announced that the U.S. government plans to provide support to opposition groups in Syria after determining that President Bashar Assad's regime has, in fact, used chemical weapons against rebel groups.

Political leaders started praising the decision almost immediately.

In a joint statement, U.S. Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the President will take this urgently needed step."

The two, however, said that "providing arms alone is not sufficient," and urged the president to "rally an international coalition to take military actions" against Assad.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was also pleased with the decision and had a call for further action.

"It is long past time to bring the Assad regime's bloodshed in Syria to an end," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "As President Obama examines his options, it is our hope he will properly consult with Congress before taking any action."

And House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., released a statement saying, "I am pleased that President Obama's Administration has joined the growing international chorus declaring that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons in Syria, crossing the red line drawn by the president last August."

But Rogers doesn’t want the assistance to stop there: “As I called for in a USA Today op-ed earlier this week," Rogers said, "the United States should assist the Turks and our Arab League partners to create safe zones in Syria from which the U.S. and our allies can train, arm, and equip vetted opposition forces."

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army — an opposition group made up mostly of defected Assad regime troops — was "happy."

"The leadership of the Free Syrian Army in Damascus and its countryside said it is happy about the  American statements on the situation in Syria," spokesman Musab Abu Kudada told NBC News.

And while saying that the U.S. should have taken this step earlier, Kudada warned, "We hope that the U.S. administration is aware of its responsibilities towards the Syrian people after these statements."

NBC News' Ammar Cheikh Omar in Antakya, Turkey, contributed to this report