US: Syria gas use 'moral obscenity'
on 26/08/2013 22:45:30
Ratcheting up criticism of Syria's alleged chemical weapons use, Mr Kerry called last week's attack a "moral obscenity" that should shock the conscience of the world.
He said the US has additional information about the attack and will make it public in the days ahead.
Mr Kerry said shelling the affected area afterwards was not the action of a government trying to cooperate with UN investigators trying to assess what happened.
The alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed hundreds of people has moved the US closer to military action against Syria than at any point during the bloody civil war.
Assad has denied launching a chemical attack.
Mr Kerry said: ''The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable and - despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured - it is undeniable.''
The highest-ranking US official to confirm the attack added: "This international norm cannot be violated without consequences."
Officials said president Barack Obama has not decided how to respond to the use of deadly gases, a move the White House said last year would cross a "red line". But the US, along with allies in Europe, appeared to be laying the groundwork for the most aggressive response since Syria's civil war began more than two years ago.
The US and its allies appear to be considering a response that would punish Assad for deploying deadly gases, not sweeping actions aimed at ousting him or strengthening rebel forces.
The focus of the internal debate underscores the scant international appetite for a large-scale deployment of forces in Syria and the limited number of other options that could significantly change the trajectory of the conflict.
"What is before us today is real and it is compelling," Mr Kerry said. "Our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts."
The US assessment is based in part on the number of reported victims, the symptoms of those injured or killed and witness accounts.