U.S. official: 'High probability' Syria used chemical weapon

the Streif

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U.S. official: 'High probability' Syria used chemical weapon

By Michael Martinez. Joe Sterling and Nick Paton Walsh CNN
updated 7:37 PM EDT, Tue March 19, 2013

"High probability" chemical arms used in Syria
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "Probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times," Sen. Feinstein says
  • NEW: If Syria uses chemical warfare, "this is a game-changer," McDonough says earlier in day
  • "I have a high probability to believe" chemical arms were used, congressman says
  • Chairman of U.S. House Intelligence Committee adds final verification is needed
(CNN) -- There is a "high probability" that Syria deployed chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, but final verification is needed, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee told CNN Tuesday.
"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."
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.
Rogers' statement comes as the specter of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war emerged Tuesday, with the government and rebels each blaming the other for using such munitions.
Obama administration officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
But in remarks earlier Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the president takes the issue of chemical weapons in Syria "very, very seriously."
If reports of chemical warfare are substantiated, McDonough told CNN, "this is a game-changer, and we'll act accordingly."
Syrian civil war in photos
Israelis watching the war next door
Assad's wife ventures out to the opera
Terrorism vs. revolution in Syria's war
Intelligence Committee members received the same briefing given to the White House, Feinstein said.
Reports of Syrian jet fire into Lebanon called 'significant escalation'
"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."
Feinstein and Rogers stressed that a final verification is needed.
The embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad accused rebels of a deadly chemical weapons missile attack. At least 25 people died and more than 110 others were injured Tuesday in the town of Khan al-Asal in Aleppo province, Syrian state media said, quoting government figures. Rebels rebuffed the claims and blamed the 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.
These claims come amid pressure in the West to arm rebels, long overmatched by the Syrian military and its allies. The United States and other world powers have worried that Syria would consider using its chemical weaponry arsenal against fighters trying to topple the al-Assad government. And there is concern that jihadists who are fighting on the side of the opposition could get their hands on chemical weaponry.
The civil war -- which began two years ago after a government crackdown on Syrian protesters -- has left around 70,000 people dead, the United Nations said, and uprooted more than 1 million people.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said the missile in Aleppo province was launched from inside Syria, but the launcher came from another country.
"Whoever paid for this weapon in Qatar or any other country and whoever brought this weapon to be used in Syria must be held accountable, whoever they are, a king or a prince, a president or a minister," he said. "Whoever made this decision in the last Arab League meeting is responsible for the mass killing and the use of weapons of destruction."
Jamal al Ward, head of the military office of the Syrian Coalition, said the opposition has "no chemical substances and no mechanism for producing" such weapons.
"The regime has these weapons and everyone knows where they keep them. They have missiles and factories where they make missiles with chemicals. They are the ones capable of using this stuff all over Syria," he said. "I know the (rebel) battalions and the weapons they have in that area and they just don't have chemicals."
Added Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, head of the Syrian National Coalition: "First, the Syrian regime lies most of the time.... We are against any use of any chemical weapons from any side."
Syrian rebels accused the government of firing a rocket at a police school west of Aleppo, but the rocket landed in the wrong area, striking an area under control by government forces.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, which reported that most of those killed were civilians, showed photos of people being treated in hospitals on its website.
But Louay Almokdad, political and media coordinator for the Free Syrian Army, told CNN that the rebels lack access to chemical weapons and surface-to-surface missiles. He confirmed injuries in an attack in the town, but said it was carried out with a missile possessed only by the regime.
"The area that was targeted is under rebels' control, so it is quite absurd that the regime would accuse us of attacking our own people," he said.
"The Assad regime possesses chemical agents and they already used weapons of mass destruction against its own people, so we do expect the worse from this brutal psychopathic regime," he said. "The international community must take these attacks against our civilian population seriously. It is time to put an end to the daily mass killings in Syria."
An activist Facebook page said the location was between rebel-held and regime-held territory, and it appeared that the blast hit mostly regime soldiers and some civilians in a regime-held area.
As for Ateibeh, the shelling caused deaths and many injuries, "including suffocating and nausea cases and headache, vomiting and hysteria cases," the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
"These cases are being documented for the first time in the town and were not seen like this before," the LCC said. There was no immediate government comment about Ateibeh.
Homemade videos show injured people, and others say witnesses talked of people suffocating.
The rest at the link.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/world/meast/syria-civil-war/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
 

Neon

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Mar 23, 2008
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No need to worry, folks! According to the American left, chemical weapons don't qualify as WMDs. Nothing to see here. Move along.
 
Dec 12, 2007
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They want a chemical weapon? Try my wife's dinner.

My buddy Bob from Syria says we have a civil war. I said, "who ever heard of a civil war?"

I said where's Syria and my iPhone turned on.

They said we had a missile attack. I said well at least they didn't hit anything.
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#8
Key senators push Obama to use military in Syria crisis
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 1 hr 26 mins ago

Democratic Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. John McCain, pressed President Barack Obama on Thursday to consider “limited military options” to help rebels topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“We believe there are credible options at your disposal, including limited military options, that would require neither putting U.S. troops on the ground nor acting unilaterally,” McCain and Levin urged Obama in a letter.

The goal, they said, would be to work with key allies in the Middle East and Europe “to stop the killing in Syria and force Bashar al-Assad to give up power.” The means? Target Syria’s air force and support Turkey if it is prepared to set up a “safe zone inside of Syria’s northern border," they wrote—notably by deploying Patriot missile batteries to deter Assad’s air power and to protect against Scud missile attacks.

The two lawmakers urged “precision airstrikes” against Syrian aircraft, noting that the top military commander in the Middle East, Gen. James Mattis, testified last week that they could take out “a fair amount” of their targets.

“Such a mission could also include Assad’s SCUD missile batteries and would not require American or allied pilots to fly into the reach of Syria’s air defenses,” Levin and McCain said. “We urge you to work with our friends and allies, as well as regional organizations, to consider this limited option.”

And the two lawmakers pushed Obama “to provide more robust assistance directly to vetted opposition groups” in Syria—that is to say, rebels deemed by the U.S. and its allies not to be extremists.

“We believe such assistance should include tactical intelligence and increased deliveries of food and medicine, fuel, communications equipment, medical care for the wounded, and other humanitarian assistance,” the senators argued. “To this end, establishing a safe haven inside Syria would also serve the important goal of delivering humanitarian assistance more effectively.”

Levin and McCain stopped short of urging the administration to provide weapons directly to the rebels, something Obama has repeatedly rejected over the course of the bloody fighting for the past three years. Independent estimates have placed the death toll at about 70,000.
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/...1lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QDVGVzdF9BRkM-;_ylv=3
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#9
Activists: Syrian rebel attack kills 60 Shiites
By BASSEM MROUE | Associated Press – 1 hr 57 mins ago

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels have attacked a village in the country's east, killing dozens of Shiites, mostly pro-government fighters, activists said Wednesday. A Syrian government official denounced the attack, saying it was a "massacre" of civilians.

The killings, which took place Tuesday in the eastern Deir el-Zour province, highlight the sectarian nature of Syria's conflict that has killed more than 80,000 people, according to the U.N.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 60 people were killed in the village of Hatla in the oil-rich province that borders Iraq.

Thousands of rebels took part in the attack and at least 10 of them were killed in the fighting, said the Observatory.

In Damascus, a government official said the rebels "carried out a massacre against villagers in which older people and children were killed." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The fighting in Deir el-Zour came a week after Syrian troops, backed by Lebanon's militant Shiite Hezbollah group, captured the strategic town of Qusair near the Lebanese border after nearly three weeks of fierce battles that killed dozens of troops, rebels and Hezbollah members.

Hezbollah's involvement in the Qusair battle underlined the group's commitment in support of President Bashar Assad's regime and edged the civil war in Syria closer to a regional sectarian conflict pitting the Middle East's Iranian-backed Shiite axis against Sunnis.

Most of the armed rebels in Syria are from the country's Sunni majority, while Assad has retained core support among the minorities, including his own Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, along with Christians and Shiites.

An activist based in Deir el-Zour said the rebel attack was in retaliation for an attack Monday by Shiites from Hatla that killed four rebels. Thaer al-Deiry, who identified himself only by his nickname for fear of government retaliation, said via Skype that rebels gathered and launched a counter attack Tuesday.

He said some 150 Shiites from the village fled across the Euphrates River to the government-held village of Jafra.

"The situation in the village is quiet and the Free Syrian Army is in full control," al-Deiry said, referring to the rebels. He added that the village has been under opposition control for more than a year but some of its Shiite residents recently started collecting arms apparently to fight along government troops.

Also Wednesday, the Observatory reported heavy clashes in the central city of Homs, mostly in the neighborhood of Wadi Sayeh. The fighting appeared to be an attempt by government forces to separate two main rebel-held areas in the city, Khaldiyeh and the center of Homs.

Building on its victory in Qusair, the Syrian military has shifted its attention to try to clear rebel-held areas in Homs, a linchpin area linking Damascus with regime strongholds on the Mediterranean coast, and the northern city of Aleppo.

http://news.yahoo.com/activists-syrian-rebel-attack-kills-60-shiites-070344315.html







Sheeeeeeeeee-iiiite.
 

tattered

Uber-Aryan
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Aug 22, 2002
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#10
Can we turn it into a glass parking lot yet?
 

Neckbeard

I'm Team Piggy!
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#11
So we're just going to pretend that sarin gas was stated to be a casus belli for a war in Syria but it was really this despicable, heart-munching, sociopathic Muslim
theocratic terrorist group that used it? Because arming them isn't going to create another Taliban or Al Quaeda.
John McCain being buddy-buddy with these Syrian terrorists was sickening.