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WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence claims that the Syrian government may have used a small amount of chemical weapons – possibly Sarin – on Syrian rebels, but it has “varying degrees of confidence” on their use, making it troubling on whether to act or not, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Obama administration said such use would constitute a “red-line” – a “game changer,” as U.S. President Barack Obama puts it – beyond which the United States and its allies would militarily engage the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Not only do administration officials say the alleged use doesn’t cross the White House’s “red-line” commitment, but there also are problems in drawing any firm conclusion.
Consequently, the administration may not act on its “red-line” commitment – for now.
One problem centers around accusations that the Syrian opposition also may have used chemical weapons.
Added to that is the possibility that some reports on the use of gas could have been tear gas for crowd control or flushing out the opposition in enclosed areas. However, tear gas doesn’t constitute chemical weapons under international treaties.
But there’s also an underlying reason – the concern about repeating the mistake in which the U.S. intervened in Iraq due to intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which turned out not to be true.
In addition, there doesn’t appear to be the stomach by Americans to get entangled in yet another Middle East war, given that the U.S. still is facing serious economic problems and limited resources.
Now, the administration wants 100 percent proof on the use of Sarin and other chemical weapons mainly from the government side but also the Syrian opposition, which may also be similarly involved in such activities.
In making such use known, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said there also were uncertainties on what chemical was used, who used it and where it was used.
All the intelligence community has as evidence are some soil and tissue samples which came from the Syrian opposition, raising a “chain of custody” issue.
In turn, this has prompted a determination by the IC that there are “varying degrees of confidence,” meaning the IC’s agencies – all 16 of them – were not unanimous in their assessment.
France also has stated that it has only “clues” about the use of Sarin but no definitive proof.
In addition, there have been no reports so far of fatalities from the alleged use of chemical weapons.
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