US says Syrian regime used chemical weapons
WASHINGTON, USA – 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 Thursday, June 13.
The declaration means that Syria has crossed what President Barack Obama has called a "red line," prompting his administration to announce an increase in "non-lethal" support to those opposing the Damascus regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The US also said it will provide "military support" to Syrian rebels.
"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 in a White House statement.
"The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date," he said.
"The president has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups - is a red line for the United States," Rhodes noted.
"The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has."
Rhodes did not say if the United States was moving towards directly arming the rebels battling Assad but said Obama "will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks."
"The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available. We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline," he said. – Rappler.com