By Adam Levine
There is a "high probability" that Syria deployed chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, but final verification is needed, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.
"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) told CNN. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used."
Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN's Situation Room about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a 'red line' that could lead to the United States getting involved militarily in the conflict.
"The White House has to make some decision in this. I think the days are becoming more desperate. The regime is more desperate," Feinstein said in the interview. "We know where the chemical weapons are. It's not a secret that they are there, and I think the probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times and I think the White House needs to be prepared."
Rogers' statement comes as the specter of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war emerged Tuesday, with the government and rebels each blaming the other for using such munitions.
Feinstein and Rogers stressed a final verification is needed.
“I think that the White House needs to complete an assessment and make some statement as to what action the United States will take," Feinstein said.
The president’s chief of staff said Tuesday the administration was working around-the-clock to assess what happened.
“This is something we take very, very seriously. We had teams up working on this overnight as you might suspect and we’ll continue to trace this,” Dennis McDonough said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired on “The Lead.”