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U.S. Says Assad Regime Has Used Chemical Weapons Against Rebels

June 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
The Obama administration announced late Thursday that it had concluded that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against rebels. National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the Assad regime has used the nerve agent sarin on a small-scale multiple times.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Two major stories tonight.

We begin with a late development about the war in Syria. The Obama administration has concluded the Syrian government has utilized chemical weapons in its fight against rebels. That word came late this afternoon from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

In a statement, he said: “The Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale, against the opposition multiple times in the last year.” The statement said U.S. found no evidence that rebels have used chemical weapons.

White House officials said in response to the findings President Obama has decided to provide new military support to the rebels, but they gave no details.

The confirmed death toll in the Syrian civil war has grown to nearly 93,000. The U.N. Human Rights Office reported the new figure today. It said, on average, nearly 5,000 people are being killed every month.

And U.N. human right chiefs Navi Pillay said the actual death toll may be much higher.

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Civilians are bearing the brunt of widespread violent and often indiscriminate attacks, which are devastating whole swathes of major towns and cities, as well as outlying villages.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The war has also driven more than a million Syrians to take refuge in other countries and millions more are internally displaced.