In a stunning admission, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the U.S. intelligence services have evidence that chemical weapons—including sarin nerve gas—have been used in the Syrian civil war. If true, that evidence would suggest that someone, most likely the Assad regime, has crossed President Obama's "red line" that would prompt the United States to finally intervene in the conflict.
There have been indications for weeks that chemical weapons have been used, but so far the White House and Defense Department have been unwilling to say that the evidence was definitive. Earlier this week, Israeli intelligence said definitively that they had been used. The White House says more proof is needed to tie the weapon directly to Bashar al-Assad's forces, which Obama recently called a "game changer" on American involvement in the war, but indications are that they were used by his regime.
Hagel, who revealed the new Pentagon position while the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, told reporters that the use of chemical weapons "violates every convention of warfare." So the next question is: What is the U.S. going to do about it?