The Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, the United States government announced Thursday evening.
U.S. officials said that America will increase the “scope and scale” of its assistance to rebels in Syria in response.
“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, as there has long been an established norm within the international community against the use of chemical weapons,” deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in a statement.
“Our intelligence community now has a high confidence assessment that chemical weapons have been used on a small scale by the Assad regime in Syria. The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he continued.
The army’s use of chemical weapons had been confirmed by multiple, independent sources, he said. There were no reliable reports accusing rebel forces of using chemical weapons, he added.
In April, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the U.S. had proof chemical weapons had been used in Syria, but that it was not yet clear who had used them.
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for serious intervention. “A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue,” the two said in a statement.
Tags:chemical warfare, Bashar Assad, US-Syria, Syrian rebels, Syria civil war, Obama administration, Syrian chemical weapons