Meet the Press   |  August 25, 2013

White House: 'Little doubt' chemical weapons were used in Syria

NBC correspondents Richard Engel and Kristin Welker update David Gregory on the latest developments in Syria.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> situation in syria . the white house this morning is saying there is, quote, little doubt chemical weapons were used in syria , as president obama weighs military action against the country. and also this morning a warning from iran that, quote, crossing the red line on syria will have severe consequences. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel joins me now from turkey. richard, you got additional information about what's happening on the ground in syria .

>> reporter: several new developments, david . we've spoken to commander of the syrian army , and he confirmed to us that large weapons supplies have arrived to the rebel force. they came through turkey and we're talking about tons of weapons that they hope will change the momentum of the battle. the general also told us that he believes that bashar al assad , the syrian president , personally ordered the use of chemical weapons against civilians in those outskirts of damascus last week. when we asked why, he said two reasons. one, that syria was responding to a failed assassination attempt against bashar al assad when there was an attack on bashar al assad 's personal convoy in damascus earlier this month. he said that infuriated him and he ordered his military council to draw up options including the use of chemical weapons . the second reason, according to the general, was that the rebels in this area that was attacked, which is right on the outskirts of damascus , had recently acquired their own weapons. they had taken some missiles from the regime and that syria found this unacceptable, that it couldn't have such well-armed rebels right on the outskirts of damascus and that these two things combined, the failed assassination attempt and then these heavily armed rebels right on bashar al assad 's doorstep led the syrian president to take this action.

>> a developing story and our richard engel is right on top of it, joining this morning from turkey. richard, thanks.

>>> i also want to go to the white house this morning and check in with our correspondent there, kristen welker. kristen, as i've been mentioning, another development is this morning is that damascus is saying they'll allow weapons inspectors in. this is a big point because the white house wants verification of whether this was a chemical attack .

>> reporter: it is, david . i just spoke with a senior administration official who confirms that the administration is aware that the syrian government has agreed to allow u.n. inspectors in to syria . there are some concerns. they don't believe the inspectors will get in today. they also say that area has been shelled for five straight days so there's some real concern that any evidence may have been lost or destroyed in all of that shelling. but there's another headline coming out of the white house today, david , and that is that administration officials say at this point there is very little doubt that chemical weapons have been used inside syria . now we know that president obama met with his national security team on saturday. there will be high-level meetings throughout day as the administration tries to determine exactly how to respond. president obama has called the use of chemical weapons a red line . he has ruled out putting boots on the ground , but we know that he's considering a range of options including and possibly limited air strikes . so that is the situation right now from the white house , david , as we continue to monitor this breaking news.