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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid