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Obama reconsiders Syria options
June 14, 2013, 12:34 am

Many cities and towns, such as Aleppo, have been wiped out in the two-year civil war [Xinhua]

Many cities and towns, such as Aleppo, have been wiped out in the two-year civil war [Xinhua]

The White House said Thursday that US President Barack Obama is now considering whether to take determined steps to help the Syrian rebels fighting to oust the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The statement came shortly after White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said that the Washington believes with “high confidence” that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons multiple times during the two-year conflict there.

“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,” Rhodes said in a statement.

“The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete,” he said.

The US, Britain and France have been concerned since Iran-backed Hezbollah militia fighters streamed across the Lebanese border to assist Syrian government forces and turn the tide in such formerly rebel-held towns like Qusair.

Obama has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks from allies abroad and politicians at home to take more action to help the rebels as the balance of power tilts towards Assad.

In his statement, Rhodes said that Washington is working with its allies to present a “credible, evidentiary” case to share with the international community.

“The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he noted.

Rhodes stressed that any future U.S. action must serve its national interests and its objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement, protecting the rights of all Syrians, securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons, as well as countering terrorist activity.

On Thursday, the UN said that at least 93,000 people had been killed in Syria fighting.

Source: Agencies

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