News / Middle East

US Cannot 'Conclusively Determine' Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

US Cannot 'Conclusively Determine' Chemical Weapons Attack in Syriai
X
August 23, 2013
The United States says it can not yet "conclusively determine" that chemical weapons were used in an attack in Syria Wednesday that Syrian opposition leaders say killed more than 1,000 people. As VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the attack on Thursday with counterparts from the European Union, France, Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar.

US Cannot 'Conclusively Determine' Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria

TEXT SIZE - +
— The United States says it can not yet "conclusively determine" that chemical weapons were used in an attack in Syria Wednesday that Syrian opposition leaders say killed more than 1,000 people. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the attack on Thursday with counterparts from the European Union, France, Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar.

U.S. officials say they are gathering information about Wednesday's alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria as President Obama considers how to respond.

"If these reports are true, it would be an outrageous and flagrant escalation of use of chemical weapons by the regime. So our focus is on nailing down the facts. The president, of course, has a range of options," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

With French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius suggesting using force if chemical weapons claims prove true, U.S. officials say they have been increasing assistance to Syrian rebels since concluding that Syrian government forces launched  earlier chemical weapons attacks. But that's not enough, said former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli.

"We say we are going to support the opposition. We say we have red lines," he said. "We say they're being crossed. And we say we are going to do something. But we don't really do enough to have it be meaningful in any substantive way."

Ereli said U.S. inaction emboldens Syria's allies Iran and Hezbollah.

"We're going to provide arms. What arms? Don't know," he said. "We're going to provide assistance. What assistance? Well, humanitarian assistance. Does that help? It helps the people of Syria, which is great. Does it help get rid of Bashar al-Assad? No."

Syrian rebel spokesman Louay Meqdad said Arab Gulf states are stepping up to arm the rebellion, not the West.

"We are receiving some shipments from some countries, and exactly from some Arabic countries," he said. "Till now the Europe countries, especially France and Britain, and the United States governments, they didn't get any serious step in this field to give us the proper weapons that we need."

Russia's support for President Bashar al-Assad complicates Washington's response as Moscow suggests rebels could have staged the chemical attack to provoke international action against Damascus.

"We expect that experts will clarify this issue and will help to disperse numerous speculations about the use of Syrian chemical weapons," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

If Syrian forces have nothing to do with chemical weapons, U.S. officials say Damascus should allow U.N. weapons inspectors who are already in the country to gather information about the attack.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
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 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