The State Department on Monday said it was investigating allegations that Syrian troops used chemical weapons earlier this month against rebel forces, raising the possibility that President Obama will have to reconsider his light-touch approach to handling that nation's alleged war crimes.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration had seen "indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical, probably chlorine." However, she cautioned that it was too soon to draw any conclusions about whether a banned chemical agent was indeed used, and if so, by whom.
The news comes one day after France claimed to have information linking embattled President Bashar al-Assad's forces to a chemical weapons attack on April 11. The attack killed at least 10 and sickened hundreds more, with both the rebels and Assad's forces blaming the other side.
The Obama administration signaled last fall it was prepared to launch targeted strikes against Syria, though it opted instead for a more diplomatic approach under which Syria was to destroy its entire chemical weapons stockpile. If Syria truly did use chemical weapons again, it would threaten to upend the delicate compromise, presenting Obama with yet another thorny foreign policy question.