Will the United States go to war with Syria? The crux of the debate centers on whether the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria has used chemical weapons against the civilian population, and whether the U.S. should act to police Assad by punishing him for using said chemical weapons.
Still, there has been no smoking gun, no conclusive evidence that Assad has indeed used these weapons of mass destruction. Without direct proof, “who dunnit” remains an open question that has separated the international community and stalled true multi-lateral action against Assad. In a pointed example, on Thursday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that there is no unquestionable evidence about who carried out the most deadly chemical attack of the war. Further, the UN mission, headed by Carla del Ponte, whose aim is to determine the use of chemical weapons, but not who launched them, is finding contradictory evidence that the opposition has also employed the use of sarin gas.
Read more on Syria: The One Graph That Sums Up Why We're Going to War With Syria
The U.S. government on Friday released their assessment of the chemical weapons situation. The report pins the blame on the Assad regime and seems to be the clearest sign yet that the White House is preparing for war with Syria.
Here is the statement:
U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s
Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013
The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack. These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting. Our classified assessments have been shared with the U.S. Congress and key international partners. To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of what took place.
Syrian Government Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21
A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.
A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information.
Friday Update: There's also now this bombshell: Syrian Rebels in Ghouta Report Chemical Attack Was a Rebel Mistake
A veteran AP and BBC correspondent, Dale Gavlak, has seemingly hunted down the truth in Ghouta, the site of the deadly Syrian chemical weapons attack.