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AFP

Obama wants facts on Syria chemical
weapons first, White House says

US President Barack Obama is awaiting a "definitive judgment" on whether the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against rebel fighters before taking action, the White House said Friday.

 

The United States said Thursday for the first time that it believed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime had likely used chemical weapons against opposition forces, though cautioned spy agencies were not 100 percent sure.

 

"We are working to establish credible and corroborated facts to build on this intelligence assessment in order to establish a definitive judgment as to whether or not the president's red line has been crossed," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

 

The spokesman said those facts would "inform our decision-making about next steps," adding that "all options remain on the table."

 

"The president wants the facts. And I'm not going to set a timeline, because the facts need to be what drives this investigation -- not a deadline," Carney said.

 

"The situation in Syria is and has been grave. The Assad regime has the blood of its own people on its hands."

 

The spokesman reiterated that Washington backed a United Nations investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

 

Syria asked for a UN probe but has since refused to let a UN team waiting in the region into the country.

 

Assad's government only wants its claims that opposition rebels used chemical arms to be investigated. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the team should also look into opposition claims.