Politics

US Will Assist Syrian Rebels Following Confirmation of Chemical Weapons Use

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The Obama administration announced on Thursday it has proof that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons to kill up to 150 people. Based on that finding, Syria officially crossed what President Barack Obama has called a "red line." The United States now says it will provide military support to the rebels that are fighting against Assad.

"Following a deliberative review, 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," said a White House statement. "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. "

The conclusion that chemical weapons were used was based on CIA tests on blood, urine and hair samples from dead or wounded rebel fighters. Assad has denied using chemical weapons on numerous occasions, Fox News reported. 

The statement from the White House continues:

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“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, as there has long been an established norm within the international community against the use of chemical weapons. 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.

"Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the President has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), and we will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks…Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward.”

Sources: Fox News, The Guardian