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TODAY   |  March 21, 2013

Obama responds to Syrian chemical weapons reports

The president is reassuring Israel that the United States will take steps against the Syrian regime if it uses chemical weapons, which Congress believes it may be ready to do. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>> let's get a check of the other top stories this morning from natalie who is actually now talking about the possible use of chemical weapons in syria.

>> that's right. good morning, everyone.

>>> also on the first state visit to israel, the president is speaking out about the civil war in syria as the u.s. investigates whether or not chemical weapons very deployed in the crisis-stricken country. andrea mitchell is in jerusalem now with the latest. good morning, andrea.

>> reporter: good morning. well, the president is telling israel it will protect it from any use of chemical weapons and also warning the assad regime that it would be a major incident. that if the assad regime were to use chemicals, it would be taking military steps against it. but there is no evidence, yet, according to u.s. officials here today that that actually happened on tuesday. that incident, it could have been some form of noxious gas that was used for crowd control by the regime. but the president said in a joint news conference with netanyahu yesterday that there's absolutely no evidence and he completely rejects the regime's contentions that it was the opposition that used those chemicals.

>> i am deeply skeptical of any claim that, in fact, it was the opposition that used chemical weapons . the broader point is that once we establish the facts, i have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer.

>> reporter: the u.n. is investigating the incident. and congressional sources say that the intelligence committees have been briefed and that the administration has full authority to get militarily involved if chemical weapons , if there's any proof of chemical weapons . and in fact, that would be as the president has said, a game-changer. it would be the first u.s. military involvement in this conflict in the two-year conflict. natalie?

>> andrea mitchell in jerusalem for us this morning, thank you, andrea.