“I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used,” Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used.”
President Obama has been reluctant to escalate U.S. involvement in the Syrian uprising. Today, 10 years after Iraq was mistakenly and disastrously invaded by the United States, placing American forces into another war zone is an unfavorable option. If it is confirmed that President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons on the rebels attempting to overthrow his regime, things may quickly change.
Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN’s Situation Room about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a ‘red line’ that could lead to the United States getting involved militarily in the conflict.
There is confirmed evidence that chemicals were used, but both sides in Syria are exchanging blame.
Intelligence Committee members received the same briefing given to the White House, Feinstein said:
“The White House has to make some decision in this. I think the days are becoming more desperate. The regime is more desperate,” Feinstein said in the interview. “We know where the chemical weapons are. It’s not a secret that they are there, and I think the probabilities are very high that we’re going into some very dark times, and I think the White House needs to be prepared.”
Assad has accuse the rebels of a chemical missile attack that killed 25 and more than 110 were injured Tuesday in the town of Khan al-Asal in Aleppo province. Rebels rebuffed the claim and blamed Assad’s regime.
The town of Ateibeh, in eastern Damascus, endured “fierce shelling with chemical rockets,” an opposition group said. An unknown number of casualties were reported.
Throughout the conflict there have been fears by the United States and other world leaders that a desperate Assad regime would release it chemical stockpile on the rebels. But there has been an equal concern that if rebel jihadists were to obtain the weapons, they might use them as well.
As the accusations continue from both sides, how will the United States and the world determine who was the villain?
Both sides claim the attack was aimed at their opposition. An activist facebook page said the attack was between an area held by regime forces and rebels. it appeared that the blast hit mostly regime soldiers and some civilians in a regime-held area.
Russia continues to support the Damascus regime: “We believe the new incident is an extremely alarming and dangerous development in the Syrian crisis,” the Russian ministry said. “Russia is seriously concerned about the fact of (weapons of mass destruction) coming into the hands of militants, which makes the situation in Syria even worse and brings the confrontation in the country to a new level.”
U.S. spokesmen said there was no evidence that the rebels had the ability or opportunity to launch a chemical attack.
The British Foreign Office is also checking on the reports.
“The use of chemical weapons would be abhorrent and universally condemned. The UK is clear that the use or proliferation of chemical weapons would demand a serious response from the international community and force us to revisit our approach so far,” a spokesman said.
So, where will the United States be in the next 30 days? Will we rush to combat without accurate intelligence as we did in Afghanistan and Iraq, or will we confirm or deny action by either side before we take military action?
This will be the first test of our new Secretary of Defense. And, there is no doubt the Republicans will be ready to pounce on whatever decision is made by President Obama and Secretary Hagel.
Columnist-The Guardian Express