NATO head convinced of Syrian chemical attack; France reports evidence

The head of NATO said Monday he was "convinced" Syria used chemical weapons, bolstering the White House's case. 

"I have been presented with concrete information and, without going into details, I can tell you that personally I am convinced, not only that a chemical attack has taken place ..., but I am also convinced that the Syrian regime is responsible," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, according to Reuters.


At the same time, Rasmussen said that there's no role for NATO to engage in a conflict beyond protecting Turkey, a NATO member that borders Syria.

"If a response to what has happened in Syria were to be a military operation, I'd envisage a very short, measured, targeted operation, and you don't need the NATO command and control system to conduct such a short, measured, tailored, military operation," he said.

Rasmussen's comments came just prior to the release of a report from the French government that offered further evidence of the alleged chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian government. 

The report outlined French intelligence that estimates a "massive use of chemical agents" by the Syrian regime during the Aug. 21 attack, which caused at least 281 deaths, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. has put the death total from the chemical attack at above 1,400. 

Rasmussen also warned that "it would send, I would say, a dangerous signal to dictators all over the world if we stand idly by and don't react."

President Obama said Saturday that he believes military engagement in Syria is necessary, but will seek congressional approval before moving forward with an attack.

The U.S. remains largely alone in the international community in its pursuit of military action in Syria. Only France has expressed support for an attack; every other NATO member state, including Britain, remains reluctant to get involved.

--This post was published at 12:33 p.m. and updated at 1:58 p.m.