'High Confidence' That Syria Used Chemical Weapons, Kerry Says

Secretary of State John Kerry, then a Senator, on December 19, 2010.

The Obama administration says it has "high confidence" that Syria's government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week outside Damascus, the capital - killing 1,429 people.

The U.S. chemical weapons assessment says Syrian President Bashar Assad's government used an unidentified nerve agent in the attack. The report cites human and satellite intelligence that it says backs up publicly available videos and other evidence.

Listen to Kerry's remarks above, followed by analysis from WNYC's Brian Lehrer, The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, and NPR's Deborah Amos.









President Obama later made remarks regarding the situation in Syria:

Full text of the President's remarks here:

Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the situation in Syria. As you’ve seen today, we’ve released our unclassified assessment detailing with high confidence that the Syrian regime carried out a chemical weapons attack that killed well over 1,000 people including hundreds of children. This follows the horrific images that shocked us all.

This kind of attack is a challenge to the world. We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale. This kind of attack threatens our national security interest by violating well-established international norms against the use of chemical weapons by further threatening friends and allies of ours in the region like Israel and Turkey and Jordan. And it increases the risk that chemical weapons will be used in the future and fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us.

So, I have said before and I meant what I said, that the world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons. Now I have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken to help enforce that norm.

But as I’ve already said, I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options. We have consulted with allies. We’ve consulted with Congress. We’ve been in conversations with all the interested parties. And in no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long term campaign. But we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm. But again, I repeat, we’re not considering any open ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots on the ground approach. What we will do is consider options that meet the narrow concern around chemical weapons, understanding that there’s not going to be a solely military solution to the underlying concept and tragedy that’s taken place in Syria.

And I will continue to consult closely with Congress, in addition to the release of the unclassified document, we are providing a classified briefing to congressional staff today and we’ll offer that same classified briefing to members of Congress, as well as our international partners. And I will continue to provide updates to the American people as we get more information.


US Assessment of Syrian Use of Chemical Weapons

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