Hagel: Syria Likely Used Chemical Weapons

Defense secretary says sarin gas probably used on 'small scale'

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 25, 2013 10:56 AM CDT | Updated Apr 25, 2013 11:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Have we crossed the red line? US intelligence has concluded with "some degree of varying confidence" that Bashar al-Assad's regime has used chemical weapons, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters in Abu Dhabi today, per the AP. The determination apparently came within the past day, and the White House has informed Congress. Hagel says sarin gas was likely used on a "small scale." "It violates every convention of warfare," the AP quotes him as saying. CNN's report make things sound a bit more conclusive: In its telling, Hagel announced that the US has evidence of Syria's use of chemical weapons.

But the New York Times' take is less certain (its headline: "US Unsure of Chemical Arms Use by Syria"; it also uses the word "suspects" to describe the US position on the matter). The NYT has more details on the letters sent to congressional leaders, which say the US needs more "credible and corroborated facts" before deciding how to proceed. For example, the government does not yet know how victims were exposed to chemical weapons in Syria, but believes Assad's regime is likely to blame, the letter says. The Times also has confirmation from John Kerry, who also said the US has determined chemical weapons have been used in two incidents.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testifies on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, April 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
In this Dec. 7, 2012, photo, damaged buildings are seen along a desolate street on the front line in the Amarya district of Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
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