Nations urge inquiry on Syria's alleged chemical use
Britain and France have asked the United Nations to investigate what they believe is credible evidence that the Syrian regime has used small amounts of chemical weapons in recent months, officials said on Thursday.
The evidence — including soil samples and witness testimony — is not definitive. But the concerns are such that “we are pressing the United Nations to investigate further and raising our concerns with international partners,” said a British diplomat who requested anonymity in addressing a sensitive matter.
President Obama has said any use of chemical weapons by Syria President Bashar Assad's regime would be a “game changer,” although he hasn't said how the United States would respond. Other U.S. officials have called it a “red line.”
The Pentagon's move to send about 200 troops to neighboring Jordan, disclosed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday, gives the United States a military option if it decides one is warranted. The small force can pave the way for a rapid buildup of a much larger contingent.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity in discussing intelligence matters, said there is no consensus within the U.S. intelligence community about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. “But there are growing concerns that chemical weapons may have been used ... in a limited way,” the official said.
Asked about the matter by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said he could not discuss it in public.
“The increasingly beleaguered regime, having found that its escalation of violence through conventional means is not working, appears quite willing to use chemical weapons against its own people,” Clapper said.
“We receive many claims of chemical warfare use in Syria each day, and we take them all seriously, and we do all we can to investigate them. We can't provide additional details on these efforts in this setting to protect the fragile, critical intelligence we need to assess the situation, but we certainly — we can talk about this in closed session,” Clapper said.
Luxembourg, South Korea and Japan also have asked the United Nations to investigate, diplomats said.
Some diplomats believe Syria is testing the United States and its partners by using the weapons in small amounts to see what sort of response ensues.
An estimated 70,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Turkey releases recording of warnings to Russian plane
- Turkey shoots down Russian jet it says violated its airspace
- French lawmakers vote to continue airstrikes against Islamic State
- Noncombat deadly for military civilians working in Afghanistan
- Palestinian artist who appealed blasphemy sentence of 800 lashes, prison sentenced to execution
- Pakistani doctor who led CIA to bin Laden stuck in prison
- Vatican puts 5 on trial for leaks
- Pope’s message received warmly as he arrives in Kenya
- Russia’s crackdown in predominantly Muslim region fuels exodus to ISIS
- Sandra sets record as latest hurricane in eastern Pacific
- Year’s worth of rain floods Qatar