U.S.: Syria used chemical weapons, crossing “red line”

The Assad regime has turned the tide and now the rebels will be further armed to turn the tables once again. This can now essentially be declared an open war. Syria has to be overthrown or in in a perpetual state of chaos and dysfunction in order to render it useless and weaken its mutual defense pact with Iran — Iran being the main target. Another factor to consider is that Obama’s Syria could prove to be George Bush’s Iraq, or worse. As we speak, and on a daily basis, Damascus is continuing to be turned into a pile of rubble. Will Isaiah 17:1 be fulfilled? Only time will tell… Don’t count on the Assad to go out easy or make a deal to retire in safety on beach front property. Assad also knows what happened to Mubarak of Egypt, Ghadaffi of Libya and Hussein of Iraq.

The Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him and, in a major policy shift, President Obama has decided to supply military support to the rebels, the White House announced Thursday.

“The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes told reporters.

President Obama has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons is a “red line” that, if crossed, would be a “game changer” for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

“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,” said Rhodes in a separate written statement.

“The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he continued.

In terms of further response, Rhodes said, “we will make decisions on our own timeline” and that Congress and the international community would be consulted.  Mr. Obama is heading to Northern Ireland Sunday for a meeting of the G8 group of nations; Rhodes indicated the president will consult with leaders of those countries.

“Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity,” Rhodes said.

To date, the U.S. policy on Syria has primarily focused on offering the rebels nonlethal assistance and humanitarian aid.

…Rhodes added that “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.”

Although that is a small fraction of the more than 90,000 who have died in the civil war, Rhodes said “the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades.”

“We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons,” Rhodes continued. “We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.”

While Mr. Obama has said unequivocally that Assad must go, the administration has said it’s still aiming for his regime to engage with the opposition to reach a political settlement. In the absence of a political settlement, Rhodes said Syria would be left with “for all intents and purposes, a civil war” that Hezbollah and Iran would jump into. Syria’s position in the heart of the Middle East makes the scenario particularly unpredictable.

Rhodes further added that the end of the Assad regime should not have to necessitate the disillusionment in all elements of the state. “There is a future for those in the Assad regime who are willing to accept the end of Bashar Assad’s reign but are willing to work for a better future for Syria,” he said.

Full article: U.S.: Syria used chemical weapons, crossing “red line” (CBS News)

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