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Americas

US presses case for military strike against Syria

© AFP

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-30

US President Barack Obama said Friday he was contemplating a “limited” strike against Syria and Secretary of State John Kerry asserted there was evidence President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons in a deadly attack on August 21.

The United States indicated Friday that it was poised to take military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a “brutal and flagrant” chemical weapons attack it says killed more than 1,400 people outside the capital Damascus last week.

UN chemical weapons inspectors to leave Syria

A team of UN inspectors has finished gathering samples and evidence related to a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed scores of people outside Syria's capital Damascus last week and is due to leave the country on Saturday, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

“We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale,” President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House.

He said the US was still in the planning process for a “limited, narrow” military response that would not involve “boots on the ground”.

Obama’s comments came shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that intercepted communications corroborated that senior Syrian officials were aware of the use of chemical weapons in an August 21 attack on the outskirts of Damascus, which he said claimed the lives of 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.

Evidence against Assad's regime

Kerry laid out a raft of evidence he said clearly showed that Assad's forces were behind the attack. According to the secretary of state, government personnel were at the site of the attack for three days beforehand, making preparations. He also said they were told to prepare by wearing gas masks.

Kerry added that US intelligence shows that the rockets used in the attack came from government-controlled areas.

The US Government released an unclassified intelligence report on Syria in conjunction with Kerry’s speech.

US Government map of areas reportedly affected by Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack

Kerry said it was essential not to let Syria get away with the attack, partly as a sign to those who might consider using chemical weapons in the future, and said the United States was joined by allies including France, “our oldest ally,” in its determination to act.

“It matters here if nothing is done,” Kerry said in a statement delivered at the State Department. “It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.”

Kerry and Obama’s statements to the press on Friday have been widely interpreted as the US determinedly making its case for a strike on Syria, despite an unconvinced public and wavering international support.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-30

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