Republican Sens. John McCain (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC) released a statement on Wednesday to President Barack Obama, urging him “to take immediate action” and deploy troops to Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in the country earlier this week.
“President Obama has said that the use of weapons of mass destruction by Bashar Assad is a ‘red line’ for him that ‘will have consequences,’” the Senators wrote. "If today's reports are substantiated, the President's red line has been crossed, and we would urge him to take immediate action to impose the consequences he has promised.”
A chemical weapon was launched via rocket from the Nairab district into the Khan al-Assal village in the city of Aleppo on Tuesday, killing at least 26 people. Though the White House initially claimed that there was no evidence of a chemical attack, Israeli intelligence later confirmed that a chemical weapon was used.
It’s still unknown, however, which side of the conflict launched the weapon. The Bashar Al-Assad regime, along with their Russian allies, have accused the rebels of launching the attack, and the rebels and their Western allies, including the U.S. government, have accused Assad.
The governments of the countries of NATO began warning late last year that Assad was considering using chemical weapons in the civil war that’s been waging for more than two years. In a speech in December, President Obama warned that the use of such weapons would constitute a “red line” for the regime that would constitute NATO intervention, and plans are currently being drafted to do so.
While the White House is accusing the Assad regime of releasing the weapons, there is evidence that it was actually the rebels, who have known connections to al Qaeda, who are responsible for the attack.
A video posted online on Wednesday featured audio from an alleged phone conversation between two members of the Free Syrian Army, one of whom is named Abu Hassan, who was inside the country of Syria and communicating with another militant outside of the country.
Hassan asks for the other militant to send a message to Syrian army base Sheikh Suleiman, which is currently under rebel control. Hassan asks for “two chemical bombs” meant to “finish this whole thing.”
“I want them to be effective,” Hassan continues. “The radius of the strike, or reach of the gases, has to be 1km.”
The video also features images of rebels surrounded by bottles of chemicals and discussing launching a chemical attack, along with footage of chemicals being tested on rabbits, similar to a video released in December.
This would seem to confirm previous reports of plans by Syrian rebels to launch a chemical attack and blame it on Assad.