The timing was probably not a coincidence, falling as it did on two anniversaries. August 18, 2011, was when President Obama first demanded Syrian president Bashar al-Assad step aside, and August 20 last year was when Obama warned that the use of chemical weapons would “change my calculus.” It was a year to the day after Obama’s warning that Assad launched what is to date the regime’s largest chemical weapons attack. At least a thousand people are dead, likely more, in several Damascus suburbs and outlying towns.
In his April 30 White House press conference, President Obama explained that there’s evidence chemical weapons have been used in Syria, but “we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, and who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody.”
CNN reports this evening that there have been Israeli airstrikes on Syria:
"Two U.S. officials are telling CNN that the U.S. believes Israel has conducted an airstrike into Syria," CNN reports. "Western intelligence agencies are reviewing classified data and they say they believe Israel conducted the strike today or late yesterday."
House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers said this morning on CBS that "it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed." Watch here.
"I think that it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed," said the House Intel chair, about chemical weapons being used in Syria. "There is mounting evidence that it is probable that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons during the course of this conflict."
The flurry of excitement over Syria’s “moving” of chemical weapons highlights yet again the paralysis gripping U.S. Middle East strategy. “We’re kind of boxed in,” an administration official confessed to the New York Times. “There’s an issue of presidential credibility here, but our options are quite limited.”