Obama authorizes US action in Syria
The White House disclosed for the first time Thursday that Syria's president deployed deadly chemical weapons against rebels.
Major response after 'red line' crossed
U.S. officials have concluded that the Syrian regime of president Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against rebel fighters, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Congressional sources told CNN that investigators concluded that Syria has used chemical weapons multiple times.
In a statement released on Thursday, the White House says U.S. intelligence concluded that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent Sarin, against rebel fighters in the last year.
The statement continues:
Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.
The White House reiterates that President Obama has designated the use of chemical weapons as a red line and that the U.S. will increase its assistance to the opposition.
"Our intelligence community now has a high confidence assessment that chemical weapons have been used on a small scale by the Assad regime in Syria. The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has," the statement says.
National Security Council deputy advisor Ben Rhodes said on Thursday that the President Obama reached a decision on what the new support for the Syrian opposition would look like. According to Buzzfeed, Rhodes said: “The president has made a decision ”about what kind of additional support will be provided to the rebels. It will be “direct support to the SMC [Supreme Military Command] that includes military support.” Rhodes added that no decision has been made on the institution of a no-fly zone.