Rogers: 'Compelling' evidence exists on Syrian chemical weapon strikes

Noting that there is "still some forensic evidence review underway" to find out exactly what kinds of chemical weapons were used amid the details of the attacks themselves, "it is very clear a ... chemical agent of some nature" was launched against anti-government forces in Syria. 

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"When I look at the totality of the evidence that we have, I do believe that it's convincing that they, in fact, did use chemical weapons." 

Use of those weapons, which crossed a so-called "red line" set by President Obama, is prompting White House and Pentagon leaders to begin planning for missile strikes against Assad's force. 

Top U.S. defense, intelligence and State Department officials are reportedly scheduled to brief lawmakers on the intelligence backing the administration's case for military action in Syria on Thursday.  

The congressional briefing is likely to focus on intercepted communications between Syrian military leaders on the day of the alleged poison gas attack that rebels say killed more than 1,000 people in the Damascus suburbs last Wednesday. 

Rogers declined to go into details of the White House's evidence backing the military options during the interview. 

But overall, according to Rogers, the intelligence is based on "avenues of sources that would lead me to the conclusion that it's convincing evidence," the Michigan Republican said. 

U.S. warships are already in station in the Mediterranean, off the Syrian coastline, awaiting orders from Washington to begin missile strikes. 

London has begun moving fighter jets and cargo aircraft to the United Kingdom's massive air base in Cyprus, off the Syrian coast, to support the coming American offensive. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday that the United States was “ready to go” if orders came from Obama to launch military strikes. 

But persistent questions over the validity of the intelligence backing the case for military action, along with concerns over whether missile strikes could lead to an escalation of U.S. forces' involvement in Syria, continue to cloud support for the administration's plans. 

Critics of U.S. action in Syria have increasingly drawn parallels between Obama's rationale for the strikes and the claims of weapons of mass destruction that led the U.S. into war with Iraq. 

On Thursday, the British Parliament grilled U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron over those concerns. 

In response, the U.K. government declared Thursday that an attack on Syria was justified on humanitarian principles.

“The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is a serious crime of international concern ... and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity,” the government's brief reads

Members of the international community, as well as top officials inside the Pentagon, argue U.S. military action could unleash a wave a sectarian violence that could engulf the Mideast. 

"The intervention of America will be a disaster for the region," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday. 

"The region is like a gunpowder store and the future cannot be predicted," Khamenei reportedly told the state-run Iranian Students News Agency. 

Iran, along with Russia, has been the Assad regime's strongest ally in the international community. 

But sectarian tensions are already beginning to bubble over in the wake of the alleged chemical attacks and anticipated U.S. response. 

Jabhat al-Nusra, the main al Qaeda faction in Syria, is vowing wide-scale attacks against Alawite Muslims in the country in retaliation for the alleged chemical strikes.

If the Sunni-led terror group delivers on those threats on Syrian Alawites, the attacks could trigger a wave of sectarian violence and escalate the ongoing civil war into a regional conflict. 

"The conflict in Syria is intensifying and becoming more sectarian. The possibilities of state fragmentation are increasing, as are the risks of extremism and proliferation," Hagel said during a speech in May. 

"The old order in the Middle East is disappearing, and what will replace it remains unknown," he added at the time.