Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a statement at 12:30pm on Friday that reaffirmed the administration's commitment to respond to chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime on the Syrian people.
He said that there is unequivocal evidence that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against Syrians in the Damascus suburbs early in the morning on August 21. "We know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire Middle East," he said, adding that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in the most recent attack including 426 children.
"It is important to ask the right questions and the tough questions," Kerry said. "We are more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment." He insisted the U.S. is committed to a diplomatic solution, but will not allow inaction at the UN level to stop America from responding.
"It matters deeply to the credibility of the United States," he said, saying inaction could risk giving the world a green light to repeat such atrocities.
His statement did not announce the details of a U.S. response. He said the administration will continue discussing options with Congress to ensure that the world's "most heinous weapons will not be used against the world's most vulnerable people."
This news comes after the British House of Commons rejected any UK involvement in a humanitarian intervention in Syria on Thursday night by a vote of 285-272. The death toll in Syria has climbed to an estimated 100,000 and recent reports indicate that soldiers serving Bashar al-Assad's regime have deployed the nerve agent sarin against civilians. UN weapons inspectors deployed to Syria to investigate the use of chemical weapons are scheduled to depart the country on Saturday, a day earlier than expected.
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