News / Middle East

Kerry: Syrian Gas Attack Crossed 'Global Red Line'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby before the start of a meeting with representatives of the Arab League at the United States Embassy in Paris, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby before the start of a meeting with representatives of the Arab League at the United States Embassy in Paris, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States and its allies are not seeking to "take over" Syria’s civil war by carrying out an anticipated American-led air strike to stop President Bashar al-Assad's regime from using poison gas again.

But he said the alleged chemical attack on August 21 that killed more than 1,400 people - including 426 children - in areas outside Damascus populated by opposition supporters had crossed an “international, global red line.”

Speaking in Paris Sunday after meeting Arab League ministers to seek support for air strikes in Syria, Kerry said the Obama administration is distributing videos of the attack to help convince Americans and Congress to back a military intervention against the Syrian government.
 
He said the videos make clear the attack killed "real people, real children" and is not something Americans can ignore.

Kerry said Arab governments would be making decisions on whether to assist a possible U.S.-led air campaign within the next 24 hours.

He said that because Assad has used poison gas multiple times and has one of the largest stockpiles in the world, the U.S., Qatar and a growing number of allies are "certain" they must act to ensure he never uses chemical weapons again.

In an interview with CBS television to air Monday, Assad denied he had ordered the August 21 attack and said evidence was not conclusive it had even taken place. He said he is concerned that an air strike on Syria would degrade his military and tip the balance in the conflict.

Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper Sunday cited German intelligence in reporting that Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Syrian presidency to allow them to use chemical weapons for more than four months, but permission had always been denied.

German intelligence officers suggested that could mean Assad may not have personally approved the attack.

In Washington, more bipartisan, classified briefings for Congress on the situation in Syria are set for Monday and Tuesday -- which Kerry said he would participate in.
 
"The vast majority of members of Congress - House and Senate - are undecided. And that's why the videos are being shown and the briefings are taking place," Kerry said.

The U.S. Congress is expected to vote on possible U.S. action against Syria in coming weeks. A key Senate panel voted last Wednesday in favor of action.

President Barack Obama takes his case for targeted military strikes on Damascus directly to the American people in a televised speech Tuesday.  

Earlier Sunday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he believes there should be a strong response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, despite a British parliament vote that rejected joining military action against the Assad government.

Hague said "the use of chemical weapons in the 21st century is an evil that we have to stand up to" and that the U.S. is seeking a "limited, proportionate response to the use of chemical weapons to try to deter the use of [such] weapons."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.
On Saturday, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton read a statement calling for a "clear and strong response" to the attack in Syria but stopped short of specifying military action.

Ashton said the EU wants Syria's crisis to be addressed by the United Nations. She said any further action against Damascus should be delayed until a U.N. chemical weapons team presents its findings.

Kerry repeated Sunday that President Barack Obama had not made a decision on waiting on the report from the U.N. team.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday al-Qaida-linked Islamic fighters have taken control of a historic Christian village north of Damascus. The Observatory said regime forces had withdrawn from Maalula after clashing with the Nusra Front.

Syrian state media denied the claims, saying government forces were winning the battle.

The scenic mountain community is on a UNESCO list of tentative world heritage sites. It is one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid