US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he wanted more evidence on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
“We don’t know when they were used, how they were used, or who used them,” the President said, adding, the “chain of custody” was not clear. “What exactly happened?”
He did acknowledge — as he has before – that there is evidence now of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which he had earlier called a red-line attracting an escalated response.
US intelligence has found two instances of the use of Sarin, a nerve gas that causes paralysis and death in case of significant exposure, against the rebels in Syria.
The Obama administration has said it doesn’t want to rush its response before ascertaining the facts, without mentioning the use of flawed intelligence to invade Iraq in 2003.
“I have to ensure I have the facts,” President Obama said in a news conference to mark the first 100 days of his second term. He added, the US has called for a UN probe.
Obama also did not use the phrase “red line”, which he had used earlier and which is now being used by advocates of an escalated response.
He used the phrase “game changer” instead.
The president also refused to discuss US response if the chemical attack was indeed ordered by the Syrian president.
He said the US will have to “rethink” the options.
On Boston bombings, the President said the counter-terrorism infrastructure worked well and the FBI had done everything it could about the Russian tips.
The President also said the failure of the gun control efforts would not affect his presidency’s legislative agenda, saying he was very hopeful about the immigration bill.