American intelligence officials believe the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on a small scale, including the deadly nerve agent sarin, the White House said today, a revelation that could provoke US intervention in the civil war that has already claimed more than 70,000 lives.
"The United States and the international community have a number of potential responses available, and no option is off the table," Michael E. Rodriguez, assistant to the President and director of the office of legislative affairs, wrote in a public letter to senators today.
The Obama administration is advocating for a United Nations investigation
British and French officials were already convinced that Syria has used sarin and possibly other chemical weapons. Additionally, Wired is reporting that American intelligence found sarin in the blood of multiple people. President Barack Obama had said that the use of chemical warfare would be a "red line" that would induce the US to act. However, the White House is not ready to act. Instead, the Obama administration is advocating for a United Nations investigation in order to confirm the reports of chemical weapons.
It seems that the administration may be recalling the last time intelligence reports led the US to intervene in a Middle Eastern conflict: 2003, when erroneous reports of weapons of mass destruction provided the justification for invading Iraq. "Given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient — only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making and strengthen our ties with the international community," Rodriguez wrote.