Syrian gov used chemical weapons - US

2013-06-13 23:33
Rebel fighters sitting together in a building under construction close to the northern city of Aleppo. (AFP)

Rebel fighters sitting together in a building under construction close to the northern city of Aleppo. (AFP)

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Washington - The United States working with European allies has concluded that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against the rebels killing up to 150 people, a top US official said on Thursday.

"Our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

He added that the "intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date".

AP reports the Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has used chemical weapons crossing what President Barack Obama has called a "red line" that would trigger greater American involvement in the crisis.

The officials said earlier intelligence assessments that indicated Assad probably used such weapons had now been corroborated. However, the officials said the administration has not determined how it will respond.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly ahead of an expected White House announcement of the finding.

Obama has said repeatedly that the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" and constitute a "game changer" for US policy on Syria, which until now has focused entirely on providing the opposition with non-lethal assistance and humanitarian aid.

Congress was also being notified of the chemical weapons determination on Thursday in classified documents sent to Capitol Hill, the officials said. The finding was aided by evidence sent to the United States by France, which along with Britain, announced last week that they had determined that Assad's government had used chemical weapons in the two-year conflict.

Meanwhile Reuters is reporting that no evidence has been found of rebels using chemical weapons, and that the White House has decided to provide military support in Syria.

Read more on:    us  |  syria  |  wmd  |  syria conflict

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