White House: More Evidence Needed On Syria’s Chemical Weapons Use

April 29, 2013 9:28 a.m.

The Obama administration requires more evidence and thorough intelligence assessments on Syria’s use of chemical weapons before it can clearly declare a “red line” was crossed, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Asked what amount of chemical weapons employed by the Assad regime would trigger action by the United States, Carney demurred.

“I don’t have the amount to give you,” he told reporters at a daily briefing. “I appreciate the question….What I won’t do is speculate.”

Carney also declined to elaborate how long it would take to verify what amount and to what extent chemical weapons were used, but added that officials needed a “broader” measure beyond “intelligence assessments.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that U.S. intelligence had concluded with “some degree of varying confidence” that Assad had likely used chemical weapons against the rebels on a “small scale.”

“We’ve made clear that we need to gather all the facts to decide whether that red line has been crossed and then decide what policy implications flow from that,” Carney added.

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said last week that the assessment should trigger further involvement from the United States in the bloody civil war.

“In my view, it was crossed. Not only have our intelligence people concluded that, but as importantly the Israeli, the British and the French have as well,” McCain said on Fox News. “The president clearly stated that it was a red line and that it couldn’t be crossed without the United States taking vigorous action. That action should be a safe zone for the Syrian opposition to operate in syria, weapons to the right people in Syria and neutralizing the air capability of Bashar Assad.”

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