House Intel Chief: I Think Syria Used Chemicals

Assad blames rebels amid much confusion

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 19, 2013 7:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – So did Bashar al-Assad cross the "red line" that could trigger US involvement by using chemical weapons on rebels in Aleppo? Or did the rebels use them? Or neither? Confirmation remains elusive after an attack today that Syria's official news agency says left more than 30 dead and 100 injured. Each side accuses the other of launching a chemical attack, and House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers tells CNN he thinks there's a "high probability" that the Syrian government did so. His counterpart in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, says she agrees with Rogers.

"I think the probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times, and I think the White House needs to be prepared," she said. Spokesman Jay Carney said the White House is investigating all the allegations. The New York Times, meanwhile, quotes two unnamed US officials who are skeptical any chemical attack happened. Reuters reports that Damascus ally Moscow has blamed the rebels, and Al Jazeera talks to a medic who thinks people were hit by organic pesticides, not chemical weapons such as Sarin.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village receives treatment.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village receives treatment.   (AP Photo/SANA)
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