Tags: syria | red | line | weapons

Rep. Peter King: Obama 'Has to Respond' to Syrian Chemical Use

Image: Rep. Peter King: Obama 'Has to Respond' to Syrian Chemical Use U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent   |   Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 04:37 PM

Syria’s reported use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” set by the Obama administration that demands a response, Rep. Peter King tells Newsmax.

“We have to respond because [Obama] has said it was a red line,” said the New York Republican who serves on the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees. “If we don’t take action, a red line is meaningless.”

King's comments followed reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies have now concluded that the Syrian government has used sarin gas as a weapon in its two-year-old civil war against rebels.

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.”

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 conflict, which has killed thousands and has created a huge refugee crisis in the region.

The letter to senators reportedly reiterates that the use or transfer of chemical weapons in Syria is a “red line for the United States.” However, it also hints that a broad U.S. response is not imminent.

Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the use of chemical weapons “unacceptable” and said all options, including sanctions, must remain on the table.

“Ambiguity is dangerous,” Messer told Newsmax. “When you say you’re going to do something, you should be prepared to do it. Obviously no one’s looking to get mired in another war, but this is a very big deal.”

The letter sent to the senators was reportedly signed by White House legislative director Miguel Rodriguez.

"Because the president takes this issue so seriously, we have an obligation to fully investigate any and all evidence of chemical weapons use within Syria," the letter said.

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