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Corker: U.S. Assessment of Chemical Agent’s Use in Syria “Deeply Troubling”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today said a U.S. intelligence assessment that chemical agents have been used in Syria is “deeply troubling.”  Corker was among a bipartisan group of senators yesterday who sent a letter to the president asking for an unclassified answer to whether “the Assad regime – or Syrian elements associated with, or supported by, the Assad regime – used chemical weapons in Syria since the current conflict began in March 2011.”

“Today, the White House stated that the intelligence community has ‘assess[ed] with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent, Sarin.’ This assessment is deeply troubling, and if correct, means that President Obama’s redline has certainly been crossed. While more work needs to be done to fully verify this assessment—like making sure we understand the chain of custody of the evidence—it is becoming increasingly clear that we must step up our efforts. I should make clear, however, that it if it comes to the use of military force, before the president takes any action to commit U.S. forces to any effort in Syria or elsewhere, I expect him to fully consult with the Senate and seek an authorization for the use of military force,” said Corker.

In another letter to President Obama earlier this month, Corker said the Senate must be fully consulted before any decision to expand U.S. involvement to stem the crisis in Syria, including any lethal assistance to Syrian opposition forces or U.S. military action.