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 Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs