Aug 25 2013
A senior US administration official said there is "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an incident that killed at least a hundred people last week.
The official said that the US intelligence community based its assessment given to the White House on "the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, and witness accounts."
The official said the White House believes the Syrian government is barring a UN investigative team immediate access to the site of a reported August 21 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs in order to give the evidence of the attack time to degrade.
Earlier US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel told reporters travelling with him in Malaysia that the Obama administration continues to assess intelligence information about the deadly attack.
"When we have more information, that answer will become clear," he said when asked whether it was a matter of when, not if, the US will take military action against Syria.
Mr Hagel spoke at a news conference after meeting his Malaysian counterpart, Hishamuddin bin Tun Hussein, on the first leg of a week-long trip to South-east Asia.
Asked about US military options on Syria, Mr Hagel spoke about the factors President Barack Obama is considering.
"There are risks and consequences for any option that would be used or not used - for action or inaction," he said.
"You have to come to the central point of what would be the objective if you are to pursue an action or not pursue an action. So all those assessments are being made."