U.S. says Syria used chemical weapons: Countdown to military action against Damascus?

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The U.S. government has just confirmed what the nations of Britain, France and Israel have already said publicly for several days: the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the rebels.

Now there are calls in Washington by members of both parties to intervene in Syria with military force — not boots on the ground but possibly a “no-fly zone” over Syria and arming the rebels to overthrow the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The problem is this: If the U.S. helps bring down the Assad regime, do we know who will seize power? Can we be certain Iran and Hezbollah won’t take over? Can we be certain al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or some other Radical Islamic group won’t come to power? As bad as Assad is, is it possible that we could end up with a regime far more dangerous, and far more likely to use weapons of mass destruction against Israel, against Jordan (to bring down King Abdullah), and/or against the U.S. and our allies

We need to pray for the people of Syria at this critical moment. They have been cruelly treated, and are suffering enormously. And it could get worse. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is desperate. If the world does not take action to stop him, he could decide to attack the rebels with WMD on a much broader scale. It could lead to genocide. But as noted, if the world does take action to stop him, the situation could go from bad to worse.

What’s more, we need to remember that as evil continues to rob, kill and destroy the people of Syria, a day of reckoning is coming. As I’ve noted in the past — and explore in my new novel, Damascus Countdown — there are ancient Bible prophecies that indicate that one day in the future, the city of Damascus will come under divine judgment for all the evil it has done and be utterly destroyed by fire. Could that day be closer than most people think?

Here are the latest developments:

“U.S. intelligence has concluded ‘with some degree of varying confidence,’ that the Syrian government has used sarin gas as a weapon in its 2-year-old civil war, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday,” the Associated Press reported.

“Hagel, speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, said the White House has informed two senators by letter that, within the past day, ‘our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin….It violates every convention of warfare.'”

“No information was made public on what quantity of chemical weapons might have been used, or when or what casualties might have resulted,” the AP noted. “President Barack Obama has said the use of chemical weapons would be a ‘game-changer’ in the U.S. position on intervening in the Syrian civil war, and the letter to Congress reiterates that the use or transfer of chemical weapons in Syria is a ‘red line for the United States.’ However, the letter also hints that a broad U.S. response is not imminent.”

CNN reports that Members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — are calling for the Obama administration to take action against the regime in Damascus.

  • “It is clear that ‘red lines’ have been crossed and action must be taken to prevent larger-scale use,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said in a statement. “Syria has the ability to kill tens of thousands with its chemical weapons. The world must come together to prevent this by unified action which results in the secure containment of Syria’s significant stockpile of chemical weapons.”
  • Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, said the U.S. government — which currently supplies “nonlethal aid” to Syrian rebels — must start “to immediately arm vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.”
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, urged the administration to work for the establishment of a safe zone for Syrian rebels. “Everything that the non-interventionists said would happen in Syria if we intervened has happened,” he said. “The jihadists are on the ascendency, there is chemical weapons being used, the massacres continue. The president of the United States said that if Bashar Assad used chemical weapons that it would be a game changer, that it would cross a red line. I think it is pretty obvious that red line has been crossed.”
  • Later, McCain said the reported use of chemical weapons was only a matter of time and that the United States “should have intervened a long time ago whether Bashar al-Assad was using them or not.”
  • “No one should be surprised that he would do such a thing. We all know he will do whatever’s necessary to hang on to power,” McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday. “And why should, frankly, chemical weapons be a red line when he’s slaughtering and massacring, raping and torturing, his own people?”

More stories to track:

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