US: Syria Used Chemical Weapons

NYT: Obama now convinced after new intelligence assessment

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 13, 2013 4:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Syrian war seems to have tipped lately in favor of Bashar al-Assad, but here's one development with at least the potential to change things: The US has concluded that Syria used chemical weapons on a small scale multiple times, reports the New York Times. President Obama has long said that would be a game-changer—he called it a "red line"—though he never spelled out exactly what the consequences would be. That is now the subject of fierce debate within the administration, says the Times.

The new finding comes from US and European intelligence analysts citing a slew of evidence, including sarin found in the hair samples of dead rebel fighters. The memo estimates that up to 150 people have been killed by chemical weapons, and the analysts found no evidence that anti-government forces used any. The development follows criticism of the administration for being too tentative on Syria from Bill Clinton. Other nations including Israel, France, and Britain have previously concluded that Assad used chemical weapons, but Obama had been holding out for definitive proof. He now believes he has it, officials tell the newspaper. Meanwhile, the UN estimates that the Syrian death toll is at least 92,900.

A solider at a checkpoint near the Syria-Lebanon border.
A solider at a checkpoint near the Syria-Lebanon border.   (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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