News / Middle East

US: Must be Accountability for Syria Chemical Weapons Attack

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 26, 2013, about the situation in Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 26, 2013, about the situation in Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Syria's government is trying to destroy evidence of what he says is its use of chemical weapons against civilian targets near the capital last week. Kerry says there "must be accountability" for those responsible for the deaths of more than 300 people.

Kerry says what has happened in Syria "should shock the conscience of the world."

"The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," he said. "By any standard it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable."

Syria's government denies any involvement in last Wednesday's apparent chemical weapons attack. Russia's foreign ministry says the attack could have been carried out by opponents of embattled President Bashar al-Assad so as to provoke international action against him.

Kerry dismissed that, saying Syria's government maintains custody of the country's chemical weapons, has the capacity to deliver them with rockets, and is determined to clear its opponents from areas attacked. He told reporters at the State Department that the Obama administration's understanding of what has happened "is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense."

"Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass," he said. "What is before us today is real. And it is compelling."

Earlier Monday, U.N. inspectors visited the site of the attack in a Damascus suburb, meeting with victims as well as doctors at a makeshift hospital.  They also took samples from the area and said they would return Tuesday.   U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the inspectors' mission could deter future use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"The whole world should be concerned about any threat or use of chemical weapons, and that is why the world is watching Syria," he said.

Kerry says Syria's decision to allow those inspections is "too late to be credible," accusing Syria of trying to destroy evidence by bombing the area since Wednesday's attack.  

Kerry says President Obama is in close touch with allies, discussions that raise the prospect of military action.  He says Obama "will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons." The United States has not ruled out any military options except for U.S. troops on the ground in Syria.

"Make no mistake. President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people," he said. "Nothing today is more serious and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny."

Secretary Kerry continues telephone diplomacy wtih allies in Britain, France and Canada, as well as discussions with Russia and several of Syria's neighbors in the Middle East.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More