Administration now says 'very little doubt' Assad used  chemical weapons on Syrian civilians


A top Obama administration official says there is "very little doubt" the  Syrian government last week used a chemical weapon on civilians, killing at  least 100 people.

The official said Sunday that U.S. intelligence officials made the assessment  based on "the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were  killed or injured and witness accounts."

The official said the White House also thinks Syrian President Bashar Assad  and his forces are denying United Nations investigators immediate access to the  site of the reported chemical weapons attack Wednesday in the Damascus suburbs  to give the evidence time to degrade.

The Syrian government reportedly said Sunday it will allow U.N. inspectors to  visit the site. However, U.S. officials think any evidence of an attack has  already been too degraded.

The administration statement follows a meeting Saturday between President  Obama and his National Security Council that concluded with the White House  saying the administration was still “gathering facts.”

The official spoke Sunday on the condition of anonymity because the official  was not authorized to speak publicly.

The reports of thousands killed or stricken by chemical weapons last week is  the latest allegation about such tactics in the Middle East country’s roughly  2-year-long civil war.

Obama said last year that the use of chemical weapons by Assad would “cross a  red line.”  But the White House has been reluctant to take direct military  actions, instead supplying rebel forces with non-lethal aid, weighing military  options and trying to garner international support.

In addition to the president holding the meeting Saturday, he spoke with  British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The leaders talked about shared security challenges, including the continued  violence in Syria, and expressed their “grave concern” about the reported use of  chemical weapons. And they will continue to consult closely about “possible  responses by the international community,” the White House also said.

The White House meeting was attended by at least 15 members of the  president’s security council, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of  State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, but it was unclear who was  in the Oval Office.

Hagel suggested Friday that the Pentagon might move Naval forces closer to  Syria in preparation for a possible decision by Obama to order military  strikes.

However, U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press that the Navy has  already sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern  Mediterranean Sea, but without immediate orders for any missile launch into  Syria.

Syrian state media accused rebels of using chemical arms against government  troops in clashes Saturday near Damascus, while Doctors Without Borders said it  has tallied 355 deaths from the purported chemical weapons attack on  Wednesday. 

The international aid group said three hospitals it supports in the eastern  Damascus region reported receiving roughly 3,600 patients with "neurotoxic  symptoms" over less than three hours on Wednesday morning when the attack in the  eastern Ghouta area took place. Of those, 355 died. 

U.S. confirmation took more than four months after rebels similarly reported  chemical attacks in February, though in this instance a U.N. chemical weapons  team is already on the ground in Syria. Assad's government, then as now, has  denied the claims as baseless.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • James,

    I have read your work and, while I agree we shouldn't be sticking our noses in most foreign affairs, I am a Christian though and strongly believe we need to protect Israel at all cost. Muslims killing Israel's Christian allies should be our fight.

  • Not our fight either way

  • Oblamma is BEHIND ALL OF THIS.  They are gassing their people to death, those who survive the gas may be better off not. Nerve gas is a horrendous agent to be exposed to.  WMD,. where did they get a hold of this? Treason, traitor, adequate grounds for purging the regime occupation in dc, TODAY!!!!

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