Concerns about the use of chemical weapons inside Syria began to surface in 2012 following reports that the regime was targeting civilians with a variety of the armaments. In August of that year, President Barack Obama warned that hard evidence of more attacks would constitute a “red line,” after which he would order military strikes. But after a flood of video and physical evidence emerged by August 2013 that Assad’s forces continued to use sarin gas on civilians, Obama instead struck a deal, brokered by Moscow, requiring Damascus to document and hand over all of its chemical weapons stocks for destruction in exchange for a reprieve from the potential strikes.
Obama’s stand down on military action came as U.S. forces were primed to go. Assets were in place, and “our finger was on the trigger,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a documentary crew earlier this year.
Paul Mcleary reports: