Assad regime used chemical weapons against rebels, US officials say

3:28 PM, Jun 13, 2013   |    comments
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Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - U.S. and European officials have determined that Syrian government has deployed chemical weapons against rebels, according to American lawmakers.

The White House notified lawmakers on Thursday that they have determined chemical weapons have been used.

The White House announced late Thursday afternoon that they are going to hold a previously unscheduled call with reporters to discuss Syria.

The White House previously acknowledged that chemical weapons had been likely deployed, but they needed further confirmation.

"I thank the president for acknowledging that Syrians are using chemical weapons," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who added that president has agreed to give further aid to the Syrian rebel groups. "Just to provide additional weapons to the Syrian National Army is not enough. We have got to change the equation on the battleground."

No details were offered about whether any major announcements are coming in the 5 p.m. call. The report confirming chemical weapon use comes as President Obama faces greater pressure to step up action in Syria.

Earlier on Thursday, Politico reported that former President Bill Clinton agrees with McCain that Obama should be more forceful to support Syrian rebels who are fighting the government forces of Assad.

"Some people say, 'Okay, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!' I think that's a big mistake," Clinton said during a Tuesday event on behalf of the McCain Institute for International Leadership in New York City.

"I agree with you about this," Clinton told McCain. "Sometimes it's just best to get caught trying, as long as you don't over-commit -- like, as long as you don't make an improvident commitment."

Earlier on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to Clinton's comments that "The president makes a decision about the implementation of national security options based on our national security interests, not on what might satisfy critics at any given moment about a policy."

Carney declined to say whether Obama disagreed with Clinton's views.

Associated Press

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