Syrian Government's Use of Chemical Weapons

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 30, 2013
Secretary Kerry Delivers a Statement on Syria August 30, 2013

A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.

In remarks on August 30, Secretary of State Kerry said, "We know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year and has used them on a smaller scale, but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened. We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so."

Secretary Kerry continued, "The United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first responders, the doctors, nurses, and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger. This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people."

 

The United States Government assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition. Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation. We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.

"The President has been clear: Any action that he might decide to take will be a limited and tailored response to ensure that a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable," Secretary Kerry said. "And ultimately, ultimately, we are committed -- we remain committed, we believe it’s the primary objective -- is to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation, because we know there is no ultimate military solution. It has to be political. It has to happen at the negotiating table, and we are deeply committed to getting there."

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Comments

Steve C.
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Massachusetts, USA
August 30, 2013
Let's respond to the Syrian gas attacks by mounting a large humanitarian relief effort for those in the refugee camps already and those who want to leave Syria. Facilitating a mass exodus guarded by our military would be a huge win. Negotiating with countries in the region or elsewhere to accept the refugees could also be a huge win if we pay for for most or all of it. Those countries would have a long term incentive to repatriate the refugees once the conflict is over and the history books would mark us down as friends of the Syrian people regardless of all the tricky politics.
jerry f.
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California, USA
August 31, 2013
First of all how do we know who used the chemical weapons--the rebels could have used them with the support of another regime,,And to make the Syrian air force disabled would let the terrorist and extremist run all over the place and create many more deaths and created oppression--I see that is a reality --at least Assad can keep the nation together if he can get all the proxy dancers out of there. besides it appears the Us can use weapons of mass destruction anytime it sees fit,,the US used them in a war based on a lie in Iraq, the US helped Iraq use chemical weapons on Iranians. Israel used white phosphorous in Gaza and not even a block aid was place on them..looks like the same old game
Ashim C.
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India
August 31, 2013
International community has displayed enough restraint in dealing with the crisis that Assad has created in Syria. Issue no longer is whether or not Assad has majority of Syrians with him or not nor is it if the opposition to him is engineered by foreign powers. Issue really is if any government anywhere in the world can flout flout international laws and norms of behaviour and can be allowed to get away with that. Restraining Assad was the responsibility of all. But with both Russia and China are determined to thwart consensus of action against Assad for using banned chemical weapons and U.K too having backed out in advance, it is good to see that US remains committed to it's core values and commitments though the US Government knows war against Assad has many opponents in USA. Assad was warned on dire consequences of use of chemical weapons and he knew it always. In these circumstances, one prays that war, which is so imminent, may somehow be avoided. Possibly, USA can move it's military might to the shores of Syria and ask Syrians to leave the country to avoid and minimize risk to their lives. To make this happen all neighbours of Syria should give refuge willingly and other countries should offer to host refugees if the war prolongs. Those OPEC countries and oil companies, which are sympathetic to people of Syria can contribute to the war efforts by maintaining supplies oil and gas and it's price. Needless to say USA and it's oil companies have special responsibility in this.
count t.
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Kentucky, USA
August 31, 2013
All members of the enforcement class in Syria have contempt for the civilians. All the police in Syria are monsters, savage beasts, notorious demons, infamous devils, and government hell hounds. Why is it always in the best interest of the child to violently tomahawk a homestead in the Backwoods of America? Kerry's warmth, compassion, sensitivity, statesmanship, and diplomacy is being appropriately replaced with belligerency. Congratulations.
Robert G.
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California, USA
August 31, 2013
Mr. Kerry, You couldn't sell a sweater to an Eskimo. Quit being Obama's puppet.
Bruce R.
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California, USA
September 1, 2013
I can't believe that I campaigned for John Kerry for president in 2008. What was I thinking? He's as bloodthirsty and duplicitous as the rest of them.
donna j.
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California, USA
September 1, 2013
I'm a huge admirer of yours and I just wanted you to know that I was sickened by the smirk on Wallace's face and the awfulness of rand paul today. Your service to our country is truly exceptional. You are a true patriot. Thank you for all that you do.
john s.
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Arizona, USA
September 2, 2013
Obama playing golf,hillary probably would be engaged in speaking events,thanks John Kerry for your tireless efforts in doing the right thing.
Karen A.
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Rhode Island, USA
September 2, 2013
I am writing to state my opinions with respect to recent events in Syria and to urge President Obama NOT to take any military action against the Syrian government in response to chemical weapons attacks on their own people. While these attacks are without a doubt atrocities it is not in the best interest of the United States to get involved militarily. Doing so will ultimately bring more bloodshed among Americans and pose threats to international diplomacy. If we take actions against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime the ramifications for the United States will be devastating. Once an act of aggression is taken on our part there is no undoing it. As Syrian’s Deputy Foreign Minister Failsal Mekdad succinctly stated in an interview with BBC News if the United States attacked It would result in “a destruction of the existing international system,” and “more hatred for the Americans.” I wholeheartedly agree with his conclusion that “…terrorism will flourish everywhere. This will undermine the security of Americans, inside and outside their country…” The risks and ramifications of taking such action is irresponsible at best. An attack by the United States will only exacerbate the escalating tensions with the Middle East. This is the last thing that we want. Staying out of their civil war and their civil affairs is imperative! To take action as President Obama is suggesting will not solve anything. Doing so will undoubtedly result in more U.S. bloodshed here and abroad. Therefore, I urge you not interfere with Syria’s internal affairs. It will only come back to haunt us. A military attack on Syria would be a slow painful suicide for our great nation. ,
Bob R.
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California, USA
September 11, 2013
Mr. Kerry, your endless repetitions of the allegation that it was the Assad government (and not foreign mercenary "rebels") that carried out the attacks does little to make the allegation more convincing. Would it be too much to ask that you provide some evidence? Perhaps you remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. But then again, perhaps you don't. Just out of curiosity, why was your article about how you acted on your conscience in opposing the Vietnam War (and yet you support this one) withdrawn from DipNote?

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