World News

US Says Sarin Gas Used in Syria Attack

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says independent testing has confirmed the use of sarin gas in last month's attack on civilians in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Kerry told U.S. media Sunday that samples provided to the United States from first responders on the scene have "tested positive for signatures of sarin".

His comments come a day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he will seek congressional approval before launching a military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for what the U.S. concluded was the use of chemical weapons.

Mr. Kerry says he is confident that members of the U.S. Congress "will do what is right", but adds that the president has the power to act no matter what Congress decides.

Syria's state new agency quotes President Bashar al-Assad saying Sunday that Syria was capable of confronting any "external aggression". The country's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Maqdad, said Mr. Obama's decision to seek approval from Congress was full of "hesitation and confusion".

The Syrian government alleges that the the August 21 attacks were carried out by rebel fighters, but has not yet presented any evidence supporting the claim.

Syria's opposition says it is disappointed with Mr. Obama's decision to hold off on taking quick action against Damascus. The opposition coalition said in a statement Sunday that any possible military action should be carried out in conjunction with the Free Syrian army.

In an address at the White House Saturday, Mr. Obama said he has decided the United States should take military action against Syrian government targets. But he said that while he believes he has the authority to order a strike, he also thinks it is important for the country to have a debate on the issue.

Later, President Obama formally asked Congress to allow him to use military force in Syria to "deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade" the potential for more chemical attacks. The president ruled out any action that would put American ground troops in Syria.

He called what happened in Damascus nearly two weeks ago the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century, and he said the U.S. must not turn a 'blind eye" to it.

U.S. congressional leaders responded by saying they expect the Senate and House of Representatives to take up the matter when they return from their summer recess the week of September 9.



A U.N. inspection team wrapped up its work in Syria and left the country Saturday. A U.N. spokesman says in a call with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the head U.N. inspection team said the preparations for classifying the samples are progressing well and that they will begin to be transferred to laboratories on Monday.

The spokesman says Mr. Ban asked that the analysis of the samples be expedited and that a report of the results be sent to him as soon as possible. The secretary general also said that he believes the U.N. Security Council should stand "firm and united" in agreeing on measures in response to any use of chemical weapons.

The Syrian government has denied having any role in chemical weapons attacks. But Mr. Obama said U.S. intelligence is clear that "well over 1,000 people" were murdered - gassed to death by their own government.

In another development, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls is reported to have said Sunday that France will not take action alone against Syria, and will wait for a decision by U.S. Congress as Paris needs to be part of a coalition.

Protesters around the world took to the streets on Saturday to protest for and against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria.

Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the U.N. Security Council to refer the Syrian situation to the International Criminal Court, to impose an arms embargo on the Syrian government, and to deploy international monitors to investigate and report on human rights abuses in Syria.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs