News / USA

    US Urges UN to Probe Alleged Syrian Chemical Attack

    White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House, Aug. 21, 2013.
    White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House, Aug. 21, 2013.
    Kent Klein
    The Obama administration is asking the United Nations to investigate allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians. Officials also are seeking a Security Council debate on the issue.
     
    Shortly before an emergency meeting Wednesday of the U.N. Security Council, White House officials said they were “deeply concerned” about a report that the weapons were used.

    Opposition activists say the government of President Bashar al-Assad used toxic gas in an attack that killed at least 100 people. The Syrian government denies the charge.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States could not confirm the report. For that reason, he said it is even more important the Assad government allow U.N. inspectors now in the country to have access to where the attack is said to have taken place.

    “There is an investigation team that is on the ground in Syria right now, and we are hopeful that the Assad regime will follow through on what they have claimed previously, that they are interested in a credible investigation that gets to the bottom of reports that chemical weapons have been used.  So, again, it is time for the Assad regime to live up to their rhetoric in this regard,” he said.

    Earnest rejected a reporter’s assertion that international pressure is having no effect on the Assad government, but he acknowledged that it has not stopped the violence.

    “We have seen evidence and indications that the Assad regime is feeling that pressure, but you are right that it has not resulted in the outcome that we would like to see, which is Assad being completely removed from power,” he said.

    Steven Heydemann, senior adviser for Middle East initiatives at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said that if the attack took place as reported, the Syrian government is not worried about international condemnation.

    “What this use of these weapons tells us is that the Assad regime really is not terribly concerned about either the presence of this U.N. team or about a negative world reaction to its use of this kind of weapons," he said. "It is determined to use them, even though it knows that it will generate enormous criticism internationally.”

    The White House has not announced any new initiatives in the aftermath of the reported chemical attack in Syria. Heydemann said he does not expect any immediate change in Obama administration policy.

    “And so it seems as if the White House is not prepared to view this event as a game-changer, in terms of its approach to Syria, at least for the moment,” said Heydemann.

    President Barack Obama announced earlier this year that he intends to ship weapons to Syrian opposition groups. Concerns in Congress about the possibility of those arms ending up with groups that are hostile to the U.S. have led to delays in approval of the shipments.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 22, 2013 1:53 PM
    Mr. Obama once said the use of chemical weapons by Assad was a red line the regime should not cross. Long time ago an ally of the US out there raised an alarm to the effect Bashir al Assad had used chemical weapons in prosecuting the war against the opposition, but the US disregarded that. Mr. Obama's response to USA's allies in the ME leaves much to be desired. It tells tale of a hostile friendship, a grey gap in the American sustenance of cooperation with those friend nations. Maybe we have seen a lot of Mr. Obama taking priority over the entire country in relations with diplomatic pacts between US and its allies in the ME. Now another evidence of concrete crossing of the red line has emerged; with children and men apparently roasted in asphyxiation from poison gas whose only possible source is the war between Assad and his opposition.
    Obviously Mr. Obama had used that warning as intimidation for Mr. Assad. But Assad appears to have understood Mr. Obama so well that he is not fooled by another Obama bluff. However we cannot say for certainty that only Mr. Assad has access to those chemical weapons. To this end, the scope of the terms of reference for the investigators should be wide enough to scoop every possible involvement, Assad regime, opposition, Hezbollah, Hamas or al qaida. The references should include also the location of the attacks, whether they happened in Sunni, shia, secular or Christian areas. This is because both regime and opposition might want to insinuate anything against each other, especially at the expense of those who matter little to them. But the knowledge of this will help determine who might possibly use such an alibi to its advantage.
    So far, television footage seems to present a serious query and a picture of stage managed affair. We see a lot of children and men. There are no women, which does not show a representation of true situation. What were so many children doing out all on their own without their mothers or even sisters? Again chemical burns are absent. We leave details for the inspectors and investigators. But the bottom line is that Mr. Obama should stop thinking that to be the president of USA means he should say things he has no intention to do, or that whatever he says becomes a law that must sort itself out at its own time. That only exposes the US to more ridicule. Assad can move with impunity because both Russia and China will stand to prevent any and every backlash from those actions he takes – good or bad.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora