Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Intel Has Timeline of Syrian Attack White House Plans to Release Evidence of Assad Culpability

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Intel Has Timeline of Syrian Attack White House Plans to Release Evidence of Assad Culpability

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration believes that U.S. intelligence has established how Syrian government forces stored, assembled and launched the chemical weapons allegedly used in last week's attack outside Damascus, according to U.S. officials.

The administration is planning to release evidence, possibly as soon as Thursday, that it will say proves that Syrian President Bashar Assad bears responsibility for what U.S. officials have called an "undeniable" chemical attack that killed hundreds on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.

The report, being compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is one of the final steps that the administration is taking before President Barack Obama makes a decision on a U.S. military strike against Syria, which now appears all but inevitable.

"We are prepared," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday. "We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take. We are ready to go." The assets include four cruise missile-armed destroyers in the Mediterranean.

The timing of such a military response is being dictated by the need not only to assemble incontrovertible evidence against Assad -- an important prerequisite given the recent memories of a war based on false claims of weapons of mass destruction -- but also to allow consultation with Congress and international partners.

Britain, France and Turkey have indicated willingness to contribute to military action. The administration is weighing the importance of direct international participation in an effort that U.S. forces are prepared to undertake themselves.

The safety of United Nations experts who are in Syria investigating the chemical weapons allegations is also an issue, said a senior administration official, who spoke about internal deliberations on condition of anonymity.

The U.N. experts, who on Monday conducted the first of what was to be four days of on-site inspections, postponed their Tuesday visit because of security concerns. Reports of the attack last Wednesday in the Ghouta area outside Damascus derailed their original plans to visit three other sites in western Syria where chemical strikes allegedly occurred earlier, and the permission granted by the government for a two-week stay expires Sunday.

"We are concerned about the possibility that the Syrian government would seek to delay access and negotiate so as to seek to keep this [inspection] process going and avert the consequences," the administration official said. Ongoing government shelling of Ghouta and surrounding areas, the official said, "is creating more time and space for them to seek to cover things up and delay."

One question that is unlikely to be addressed in the intelligence report is why Mr. Assad would launch such a massive chemical strike in the face of a near-certain international response. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.