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Britain, France press for U.N. inquiry on Syria chemical arms use

WASHINGTON — The British and French governments have asked the United Nations to investigate what they think is credible evidence that the Syrian regime has used small amounts of chemical weapons in recent months, officials said Thursday.

The evidence, including soil samples and witness testimony, is not definitive. But the concerns are such that "we are pressing the United Nations to investigate further and raising our concerns with international partners," said a British diplomat who requested anonymity, McClatchy Tribune reported.

President Barack Obama has said any use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime would be a "game changer," although he hasn't said how the United States would respond.

The Pentagon's move to send about 200 troops to neighboring Jordan, disclosed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday, gives the United States a military option if it decides one is warranted.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was no consensus within the U.S. intelligence community about the possible use of chemical weapons.

Asked about the matter Thursday by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said he could not discuss it in public. But he said the regime "appears quite willing to use chemical weapons against its own people."

Britain, France press for U.N. inquiry on Syria chemical arms use 04/18/13 [Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:48pm]
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