The New York Times reports: American intelligence analysts now believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in the civil war in Syria, an assessment that will put added pressure on a deeply divided Obama administration to develop a response to a provocation that the president himself has declared a “red line.”
“Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year,” the deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said in a statement released by the White House on Thursday afternoon. “Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information”
President Obama said in April that the United States had physiological evidence that the nerve gas sarin had been used in Syria but lacked proof of who used it and under what circumstances. Mr. Rhodes said that American intelligence officials now believed that 100 to 150 people had died from the attacks, and he said that the number “is likely incomplete.”
In his statement, Mr. Rhodes alluded to Mr. Obama’s position that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line for the United States. “The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reports: A U.S. military proposal for arming Syrian rebels also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who would train there, according to U.S. officials.
Asked by the White House to develop options for Syria, military planners have said that creating an area to train and equip rebel forces would require keeping Syrian aircraft well away from the Jordanian border.
To do that, the military envisages creating a no-fly zone stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to U.S. officials.
The Daily Beast reports: In sharp remarks directed against his Democratic successor and his wife’s former boss, President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that President Barack Obama risks looking like a “wuss,” a “fool,” and “lame” for not doing more to influence events in Syria.
Clinton, speaking with Sen. John McCain Tuesday night in a closed press event sponsored by the McCain Institute, contrasted Obama’s inaction in Syria to his own action in the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, which included the bombing of the forces of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Clinton said a president must look beyond public and congressional reluctance to military intervention for the sake of national security and to save lives.