Published On: Sat, Apr 27th, 2013

US intel says, ‘with varying degrees of confidence’, the Assad regime has used sarin nerve agent on Syrian citizens, President Obama promises a ‘very rigorous investigation’

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters on the last day of  his five-nation inaugural trip to the Middle East that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons — specifically the nerve-agent sarin — on a small scale in that violence-torn nation.



In addition, the White House sent a letter to several members of the Congress to include Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) specifically addressing this topic.

“The intelligence community has been assessing information for some time on this issue, and the decision to reach this conclusion was made within the past 24 hours,” the secretary said. “I have been in close contact with senior officials in Washington since then to discuss this serious matter.”

Hagel said the United States can’t confirm the weapons’ origin, but “we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the [Bashar] Assad regime.”

The White House letter, signed by Miguel Rodriguez, director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, on President Barack Obama’s behalf, responded to an April 24 inquiry by unidentified members of Congress. They asked, “Has the Assad regime, or Syrian elements associated with or supported by the Assad regime used chemical weapons in Syria since the current conflict began in March 2011?”

The Obama administration will remain in close consultation with you and the Congress on these matters, the letter continued. “In the interim, the administration is prepared for all contingencies so that we can respond appropriately to any confirmed use of chemical weapons, consistent with our national interests.”

“As the letter states,” Hagel said, “the president has made it clear that the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of such weapons to terrorist groups would be unacceptable.”

The United States has an obligation to fully investigate, including with key partners and allies and through the United Nations, evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria, the secretary added.

On Friday, President Obama hosted His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House to discuss several issues, including the developments in Syria.

The crisis in Syria has a huge impact on Jordan due to more than half a million refugees crossing their border to escape the violence in their own country.

The President addressed the reports that chemical weapons may have been used on the citizens of Syria and promised that the U.S and our partners in the region would pursue a “very rigorous investigation” of the evidence:

We have to act prudently. We have to make these assessments deliberately. But I think all of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations.

So this is going to be something that we’ll be paying a lot of attention to — trying to confirm, and mobilize the international community around those issues.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called for the United Nations Security Council to finally take strong and meaningful action to end this crisis in Syria.

In a statement Thursday, Feinstein said, “The intelligence community has assessed that Syria has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the Syrian opposition. This has now been acknowledged by the Secretary of Defense and the White House. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been briefed on the intelligence behind this assessment and has followed this matter very closely.

“I am very concerned that with this public acknowledgement, President Assad may calculate he has nothing more to lose and the likelihood he will further escalate this conflict therefore increases. It is also important that the world understands the use of weapons of mass destruction, such as sarin, will not be countenanced, and clearly Assad must go.

“It is clear that ‘red lines’ have been crossed and action must be taken to prevent larger scale use. Syria has the ability to kill tens of thousands with its chemical weapons. The world must come together to prevent this by unified action which results in the secure containment of Syria’s significant stockpile of chemical weapons.

“On the basis of this new assessment, which is matched by France and the United Kingdom, I urge the United Nations Security Council—including Russia—to finally take strong and meaningful action to end this crisis in Syria.”



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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. El Despertador Americano | Syria’s neighbours cautious about US-led intervention – Reuters UK says:

    […] Says It Suspects Assad Used Chemical WeaponsNew York TimesCenter For American Progress -The Global Dispatch -FRANCE 24all 1,173 news […]

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