US Secretary of State John Kerry, laying out evidence put before congressional leaders, told a news conference Friday that US intelligence had established that the Assad regime attacked 11 separate sites in and around Damascus with chemical weapons on Aug. 21. They were launched from regime-held areas against rebel-controlled neighborhoods after advance preparations by personnel protected by gas masks. At least 1,429 Syrians died in the attack, 426 children among them. Medical staff treating the injured themselves succumbed to the gas fumes. The US secretary said that if America looks the other way and does nothing and Syria gets away with this crime against humanity, others will believe they can do what they will, including Iran with regard to its nuclear weapons and North Korea.
President Obama has pledged that what is done in Syria will be in the American interest and not resemble the wars in Afghanistan and Libya. There will be no US boots on the ground; nor will the operation be open-ended. It will be limited to holding those responsible for using chemical weapons accountable.
With regard to the UN chemical team’s inspection of the affected sites, Kerry noted that its remit was not to affirm who used chemical weapons only whether they were used. “The UN can’t tell us anything we don’t know and have shared with the American public.”