Noting that "a line has been crossed" by the Assad regime in Syria by killing a large number of people, US President Barack Obama has said the use of chemical weapons and related issues have made the situation more "urgent" in the conflict-torn country.
"I think that, in many ways, a line has been crossed when we see tens of thousands of innocent people being killed by a regime," Obama told reporters in a joint media appearance with King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House yesterday.
"But the use of chemical weapons and the dangers that poses to the international community, to neighbours of Syria, the potential for chemical weapons to get into the hands of terrorists -- all of those things add increased urgency to what is already a significant security problem and humanitarian problem in the region," Obama said in response to a question.
Syria was one of the major topics of discussion between the two leaders in the Oval Office of the White House.
A day earlier, the White House said it has been assessed by the intelligence community, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin. This assessment is based in part on physiological samples, it said.
"What we have right now is an intelligence assessment. And as I said, knowing that potentially chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria doesn't tell us when they were used, how they were used," Obama said.
"Obtaining confirmation and strong evidence, all of those things we have to make sure that we work on with the international community. And we ourselves are going to be putting a lot of resources into focusing on this," he said.
Obama said the United States is going to be working with countries like Jordan to try to obtain more direct evidence and confirmation of this potential use.
"In the meantime, I've been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilise chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues," he said.