March 21st, 2013
05:36 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: US intel not seeing signs chemical weapons were used in Syria

By Barbara Starr

Initial U.S. intelligence suggests Syria did not use chemical weapons in a strike earlier this week, CNN has been told by U.S. officials.

The officials emphasized this is a preliminary conclusion and the investigation continues.

U.S. analysts are "leaning hard away" from the notion that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people, a military official directly familiar with the preliminary analysis tells CNN.

There are "multiple indicators" for this emerging conclusion, a second official said.

That official told CNN, "there are strong indications now that chemical weapons were not used by the regime in recent days."

The official would not specify what those indications are, but said it points to the emerging U.S. conclusion that "weaponized chemical agents" were not used.

Analysis of a video of hospitalized Syrians suggests that it does not appear people are suffering from a chemical weapons attack or being treated as though they were in such an attack, according to the military official.

"The actions in the video don't match up to a chemical weapons response," the first official said.

Though the official noted that Syrian hospitals may have a shortage of the supplies that would be expected to be used in such an attack.

Analysts believe its possible the people in the video were deliberately exposed to, or in some fashion hit with "'caustic"' agent such as chlorine. But that would not be the same as using a chemical weapons, as defined by international treaties, such as a nerve or blister agent that cause hideous suffering and often death.

There is also no NATO or U.S. radar or satellite intelligence indicating the launch of a SCUD missile at the time of the attack, according to the military official

"The fact that it's not a weapon doesn't mean it's not some creative use of a caustic agent," the first official said.

Officials say this is an emerging conclusion and there still may be more intelligence that will come to light.

They are specifically noting, however, that the regime may have deliberately exposed people to large quantities of chemicals such chlorine that could cause symptoms and illness, but that is technically different that the weapons that President Barack Obama has called a "red line'" if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to use them in a mass casualty attack.

CNN's Richard Roth, Chelsea Carter, Amir Ahmed, Joe Sterling, Hamdi Alkhshali and Barbara Starr contrib

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Alona Giddens

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    June 9, 2013 at 9:03 am | Reply
  2. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015. ha ha ha

    March 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  3. Skorpio

    TOXIC ISLAM IS THE WEAPON OF CHOICE to create global madness, violence and terrorism.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
  4. Dallas Snell

    I guess Obama should have said the use of "Advanced Chemical weapons" would be the red line. LOL

    March 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Reply
  5. Dallas Snell

    The Intelligence community could tell me anything but I wouldn't believe them. intelligence LOL. If people died and people smelled Chlorine gas then a chemical weapon was used. Period. There seems to be plenty of evidence and witnesses to substantiate the claim. Why is it American news media seems to always twist the truth when Democrats like Clinton, Kerry or Obama are involved. They are giving millions of our hard earned dollars to terrorists in Syria and this is the result. Aiding and abetting terrorists on foreign sovereign surely is a high crime. Its like a murder in a bank robbery, even the getaway driver gets charged. This will all soon backfire.

    March 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  6. massoud

    When the corporate controlled media hap ben saying that Syria might use chemical weapons in Syria I was highly skeptical of such a claim for two reasons, 1) being that after the China and Russia the only two members of the UN Security Council abstained from arming the rebels/terrorists opposition many Nations France England and the US were upset.2) Americans after decades of US involvement in foreign wars and entanglements are tired of the US being the "policeman of the world" and sacrificing our blood and treasure in Foreign entanglements and their was a minority osf support from Americans to get involved in Syria where their are jihadist and al Queda groups involved in the Syrian opposition forces. The corporate controlled media has been desperately tring to gin up American support to gain sympathy for the opposition even though we now their are extremist and terrorist elements in their rebel forces. The powers that be predictably lead by the Corproate controlled Mainstream Media falsely reported that Syria used chemical weapons in a desperate attempt to turn the tides of support by Americans for Intervention of American forces in Syria The Telegraph reports today that the rebels did indeed use chlorine gas in the chemical weapons attack that killed Syrians. This is just further reason along with the rebels using car bombings and suicide attacks in Syria to NOT support the rebels/terrorists in Syria and to stay out of the Syrian conflict. These Foreign conflicts are unfortunate but our Nation is broke we are going bankrupt and we can not afford to police the world anymore not only is it expensive in blood and treasure but intended results are never achieved witness Iraq which is turning into a sectarian civil war and Libya which will be worse off after our involvement their. The US should not be policing the world getting involved in Foreign entanglements hatt are not a threat to our National Security, or lastly be involved in Foreign Nation building, we are going broke enough is enough this Nation needs to get a grip on reality.

    March 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  7. m68123

    Stop trying to cover for your pathetic president, CNN
    Chlorine is a deadly gas that was used in WW1.
    Sure, talk tough Obozo, then find a "technicality" so you can vote "present"

    March 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  8. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    March 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • John

      Saeed... you are truly uneducated and John Smith you are not much smarter. If either of you are living in the U.S. and don't like it. I invite you to leave. Personally I believe we should have just wiped Iran off the map. As for you John Smith. Yes lots of people have died in many different wars. Most of the wars were brought on by ignorant radical religious nuts stuck in the stone age. Which until today many middle eastern countries are still stuck in that time period.

      March 22, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
  9. saeed

    just as usa found weapons of mass destruction in iraq or that no fly zone that usa said it was going to implement in lybia but started to attack the country or this one is funny bin laden is in afghanistan but they found him in pakistan usa is built on a lie usa has always lied and will always lie this is the enthernal cycle of the evil usa country.

    March 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      The US should support the use of them just means less we will have to fight later.

      March 22, 2013 at 6:54 am | Reply
  10. saeed

    usa is lying because usa is a irish half breed country of potato farmers from dublin.

    March 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Reply
    • BigShiz

      Your women love to suck our cok's

      March 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Reply

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