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White House Confirms Chemical Weapons Use

by Glenn Hess
April 29, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 17

U.S. officials believe the chemical nerve agent sarin was used in Syria.
Structure of the nerve agent sarin.
U.S. officials believe the chemical nerve agent sarin was used in Syria.

The White House says it has evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons. “Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin,” the White House says in a letter sent to the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 25. But the letter cautions that the U.S. still has to “build on these intelligence assessments as we seek to establish credible and corroborated facts.” President Barack Obama has previously said the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” that could trigger a new phase of intervention in the two-year-old civil war. “Precisely because the President takes this issue so seriously, we have an obligation to fully investigate any and all evidence of chemical weapons use within Syria,” the White House letter states. “That is why we are currently pressing for a comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what took place.”


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