– The Associated Press

BEIRUT – With President Obama weighing the issue, increasingly desperate Syrian rebels are pressing the U.S. and its allies to send weapons to even their odds now that Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah guerrillas are fighting alongside the regime.

The U.S. and its allies so far have refused to send lethal aid to the rebels in part because of fears that the arms could fall into the hands of Sunni extremist groups that have joined the fight against President Bashar Assad.

Moderate opposition leaders have stepped up efforts to turn that argument around, saying Western inaction will deal a blow to their leadership and let al-Qaida-linked militants take the forefront in the rebellion or hand victory to Iran and Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group.

They’re hoping the newly visible role of Hezbollah and the fall of the strategic town of Qusair to regime forces will spur the U.S. and other countries to send weapons.

Ahmed Ramadan, a member of the main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said the failure to supply weapons and ammunition to moderate forces within the rebels’ Free Syrian army will let radical forces take the lead.

“Who is the U.S. denying weapons to? Everyone,” he said.

“This punishes the moderate forces, not the radical ones, because the radical forces continue to find armament through their own means.”