News / Middle East

US Says Assad's Forces Used Sarin in Syria

US Says Assad Forces Used Sarin Gas in Syriai
X
April 26, 2013 10:54 AM
The Obama administration says U.S. intelligence agencies believe it is likely the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on a small scale against rebel forces but indicated conclusive proof is needed before the president will take action. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
US Says Assad Forces Used Sarin Gas in Syria
Michael Bowman
The Obama administration says chemical weapons likely have been used in Syria, prompting calls from U.S. lawmakers for an expansion of American aid to Syrian rebels battling government forces.

In an unclassified letter sent to senators, the White House says U.S. intelligence believes “with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.”

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel read portions of the letter. “We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime,” he said.

Hagel said any use of such weapons must be thoroughly investigated.

“This is serious business. We need all the facts,” he said.

The White House said the assessment is preliminary and is not enough to change the U.S. "decision-making" on the issue because "credible and corroborated" facts are needed to guide U.S. policy.

President Barack Obama has said Syria's use of chemical weapons would be a "game-changer" in the U.S. position on intervening in the two-year-old Syrian civil war.

At the Capitol, Republican Senator John McCain - one of the recipients of the White House letter - was quick to respond.

“The president of the United States said that if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, it would be a game-changer, that it would cross a red line. I think it is pretty obvious that red line has been crossed,” he said.

For more than a year, McCain has urged U.S. military assistance to Syrian rebels short of deploying American troops on the ground. He repeated the call Thursday, labeling current aid as a ‘non-lethal half-measure.”

“Now I hope the administration will consider what we have been recommending for over two years of the bloodletting and massacre," said the senator. "And that is to provide a safe area for the opposition to operate, to establish a no-fly zone, and provide weapons to the people and the resistance who we trust.”

The White House says the United States is pressing for a thorough United Nations investigation to establish what has taken place in Syria.

But some Democratic lawmakers are signaling their openness to a more muscular U.S. response to carnage in Syria, including the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Robert Menendez.

“We have to change the tipping point [in Syria]. And that obviously means you have to help the opposition in some way, in which Assad changes his calculation,” he said.

Asked whether he believes chemical weapons have been used in Syria, Menendez said, “We will have to wait and see.”

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Max from: USA
April 26, 2013 12:10 AM
Looks like the red line is moving.

by: Igor from: Russia
April 25, 2013 11:01 PM
The allegation that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime is baseless and incredible because the USA is an ally of the opposition which is seeking to overthrow Syrian government. The USA and its allies are using the same tactics of spreading lies when they overthrowed Saddam in Iraq to create a chaotic society in Iraq.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs