The White House on Thursday said there was evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons against its rebels but it wanted a UN probe to confirm it before responding.
Syria’s use of unconventional weapons against the rebels is a red-line, which if crossed can attract American military intervention, the Obama administration has said.
“Our intelligence community does assess with varying degree of confidence that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons on small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin,” the White House told leading senators in a letter on Thursday.
Sairn is a nerve gas that can cause paralysis and respiratory failure if exposed in large dosage.
It can also lead to death. There is evidence Syria used it in two separate attacks.
But, the letter added, a UN confirmation has been sought.
Though Iraq was not mentioned, it is very clear that White House wants to avoid a repeat of the 2003 invasion that was based on faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.
An official said “given the stakes involved, given how serious the situation is, and what we have learned, frankly, from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments are not alone sufficient.”
But there are a few things that are not apparently clear yet to pin the two instances of sarin use.
“The chain of custody is not clear, so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what conditions,” the White House said in the letter.
Pressure has been mounting on President Barack Obama to militarily intervene in Syria to end the conflict that has claimed hundreds of lives.
India is opposed to outside intervention. It has called for an end to violence by the government and rebels and wants the conflict to be resolved through an internal and inclusive political process.