By Molly K. Hooper - 03/24/13 03:42 PM EDT
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Sunday warned there was “mounting evidence” Syrian President Bashir Assad has used chemical weapons, and said the "red line" calling for a U.S. response “has been crossed.”
“When you look at the whole body of information over the last two years, there is mounting evidence that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons throughout the course of this conflict," said Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
President Obama, who was in Israel earlier this week during a three-day tour of the region, vowed that he would investigate the reports, and said that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” inviting U.S. action. Such an attack would be a “game changer,” Obama added.
Asked if Obama should take action, Rogers said "that red line has been crossed."
The chairman said top GOP and Democratic members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees believe that "if we're going to do something, now is the time."
"If we are going to have any hope for any diplomatic solution to stop the wholesale slaughter — up to 70,000 and more — in Syria, which is now spilling up to the doorstop of Israel ... this is a growing destabilizing event. The fact that they have put chemical weapons in a position to use, and I believe have intent, and at some course during the last two years have used some quantity of chemical weapons, this needs to be a game changer," Rogers noted.
He warned that administration "indecision in this case" would be dangerous.
The White House hopes to reach a diplomatic solution to end the conflict, which has dragged on for more than two years, but lawmakers from both sides are intensifying calls for the administration to do more to aid the Syrian rebels.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday called for arming opposition forces and launching strikes against Assad’s missile batteries. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation in the House to provide weapons to some rebel groups vetted by the administration.