Based on previous pronouncements from U.S. officials, one would have thought it certain that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had deployed chemical weapons against rebels seeking to overthrow him. President Barack Obama, however, has just called that assertion into question, saying that the United States still knows very little about the alleged use of chemical weapons and needs to be certain before it intervenes overtly in the two-year-old civil war.
Obama had previously stated that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that the Syrian government dared not cross without risking U.S. intervention. Last week he declared that chemical weapons use by the Assad regime constituted a “game changer” that would trigger military action against the regime.
But at a Tuesday White House press conference, the president was considerably more circumspect. Asked about U.S. policy toward Syria, he said that while there is evidence of chemical weapons use in that country, “we don’t know when they were used, how they were used. We don’t know who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody that establishes” exactly what happened.
In short, the Obama administration knows next to nothing about the alleged chemical weapons attacks — or at least that’s what the administration would like us to believe.
In fact, not long after the initial reports of the attacks, it became fairly obvious that the Assad regime was not behind them. “Intelligence sources last month [March] were saying that the largest such ‘attack’ was almost certainly launched by the rebels, noting that it targeted Syrian troops and used a more primitive type of agent than the Syrian arsenal is believed to consist of,” says Antiwar.com.
Why, then, does Obama act as if the attacks remain shrouded in mystery? Most likely it’s because, as The New American reported in March, the United States is “reportedly … arming, training, and financing” the rebels, “an establishment-backed coalition composed largely of foreign jihadists, self-styled al-Qaeda members, and other Islamic extremists.”
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Photo is of a propaganda billboard for President Bashar al-Assad