The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee says there is a "high probability" that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in its sustained war against rebel forces.
"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told CNN Tuesday night. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used."
The statement came on a day in which Bashar Assad's government and opposition forces accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical weapons in an attack on Aleppo that killed 16 and wounded 86, Reuters reports.
If the claims are true, it could mark a turning point in a brutal civil war that has lasted two years, with no end in sight. Last August, President Barack Obama warned Assad that the use of chemical weapons would constitute a "red line," spurring "enormous consequences" and possibly giving cause for the U.S. to take direct action.
Earlier on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney addressed the reports of chemical weapons, saying the U.S. was looking carefully at the allegations.
"This is an issue that has been made very clear by the president to be of great concern to us," Carney said via the Associated Press, adding that if the Syrian regime does use such weapons, "there will be consequences."
However, a U.S. official -- who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the AP -- said there was no evidence either side had used chemical weapons.