White House: Not yet an 'airtight case' that Assad is using chemical weapons

The White House said Friday it does not have an “airtight case” that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces used chemical weapons and is not setting a timeline for further action against Assad.

“The president wants the facts, and I'm not going to set a timeline because the facts need to be what drives this investigation, not a deadline,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Friday’s press briefing. “This is not an airtight case."


The White House told senators in a letter Thursday that intelligence assessments had found Assad’s forces used chemical weapons.

But White House officials have cautioned that the assessments alone are not enough to say that President Obama’s “red line” had been crossed.

Carney said that the administration is working to “establish credible and corroborated evidence” against Assad before determining the next steps in Syria.

He declined to elaborate on what the administration would do specifically if the use of chemical weapons was verified.

A number of lawmakers from both parties said that they believe that red line has been crossed, and that the Obama administration must now back up its warnings to Assad with action.

Secretary of State John Kerry briefed House lawmakers on the situation Friday, and lawmakers said he discussed some of the potential options, which could include providing arms to vetted rebel groups and establishing a no-fly zone.

The administration is taking a “multi-faceted approach” to the situation, Carney said, and the White House is calling on Assad to cooperate with the United Nations investigation of chemical weapons.

Carney reiterated that "all options are on the table" to respond to Assad.