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 11:10 AM
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
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs