U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday (April 25) said the U.S. intelligence community believes the Syrian government has used sarin gas on a small scale against rebels trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"This morning the White House delivered a letter to several members of Congress on the topic of chemical weapons use in Syria. The letter ... states that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin",Hagel told reporters.

"We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons but we do believe any use of any chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have been originated with the Assad regime", he added.

The findings announced by Hagel followed a similar report released earlier this week by Israeli intelligence analysts. The governments of Britain and France have also indicated they hold suspicions of Syrian chemical weapons use but have not yet documented their information.