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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid