American intelligence connecting Syrian President Bashar Assad with an alleged chemical attack that allegedly killed hundreds of civilians is not a “slam dunk,” The Associated Press reported, citing intelligence officials.
President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and other world leaders have already stated that they hold the Syrian government responsible and have been preparing for possible military strikes against the Syrian regime.
Gaps in intelligence are likely to strengthen doubts among members of Congress about getting involved in the Syrian conflict.
More than 100 House members, mostly Republicans, have signed a letter written by Rep. Scott RigellScott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE (R-Va.) saying that Obama must acquire the consent of Congress before using military force in Syria.
According to the AP's intelligence sources, it is possible that rebel groups could have taken control of chemical weapon stores, as they have seized multiple weapons depots from the government, and there is no conclusive proof that any chemical weapons present were evacuated in time.
In addition, the American intercept of Syrian military officers discussing a chemical attack makes no reference to any senior-level military officers, suggesting that the attack could have been a rogue action by a local military commander.
On Wednesday, the State Department said that absolute certainty of Assad's involvement was not strictly necessary to justify a strike.
“We ultimately, of course, hold President Assad responsible for the use of chemical weapons by his regime against his own people, regardless of where the command and control lies,” said spokeswoman Marie Harf.