(Washington, D.C.) — The U.S. and British governments have released intelligence documents summarizing evidence that the Assad regime used lethal chemical weapons against civilians.
The U.S. intelligence report indicates more than 1,400 Syrians were killed in the most recent and largest attack, including 426 children.
The British intelligence report indicated that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on at least 14 occasions, escalating to the most recent and wide scale murders.
Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters, “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency, these things we do know.”
That said The British parliament has already rejected the case for military strikes. The French say they are ready to help. But a new poll puts President Obama’s approval ratings on foreign policy at an all time low — and 80% of Americans want Congressional approval if the President chooses to move forward with a limited strike.
So what happens now?
“Secretary of State John F. Kerry made a forceful case Friday for U.S. military intervention in Syria, saying that U.S. intelligence has information pinning responsibility squarely on the Syrian government for what he described as last week’s indisputable chemical weapons attack on rebel strongholds on the outskirts of Damascus,” reported the Washington Post. “In a speech at the State Department, Kerry said U.S. intelligence has ‘high confidence’ that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack based partly on knowledge of regime officials’ conversations about it and the tracking of movements of regime personnel before and after the Aug. 21 strike.”
“We know that for three days before the attack, the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area, making preparations,” Kerry said. “And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.”
Kerry said that U.S. intelligence knows that the rockets containing the poison gas were launched “only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods,” the Post reported. “The attack killed at least 1,429 Syrians, including at least 426 children, Kerry said. Citing ‘many disturbing details about the aftermath’ that are now known to U.S. intelligence, Kerry said: ‘We know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime, reviewed the impact, and actually was afraid that they would be discovered.’ An intelligence assessment released by the White House as Kerry spoke said the government has ‘high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the attack’ and that the regime used ‘a nerve agent.'”
Politico reports that “Kerry promised that any U.S. military action undertaken by President Barack Obama would not resemble the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or the international coalition assault that toppled Muammar Qadhafi in Libya in 2011. Also Friday, the National Security Council is briefing all lawmakers from key congressional committees on Syria, multiple Hill aides said. The committees involved in the calls include the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee. The House panels and Senate panels are being updated in separate calls. One Senate aide said the call is similar to the one held Thursday evening for congressional leaders and top lawmakers on national security and foreign affairs.”
“After a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war,” Kerry said. “Believe me, I am, too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.” He said that “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings.”
“Kerry spoke after French President Francois Hollande said Friday that his country is prepared to act in Syria despite Britain’s surprise rejection of military action, potentially making a nation that turned its back on Washington during the war in Iraq the primary U.S. ally in a possible strike against Syrian forces,” noted the Post.
- Only 41% of Americans approve of President Obama’s handling of foreign affairs — “an all time low.”
- “Nearly 80% of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria”
- “50% percent of Americans believe the United States should not intervene in the wake of suspected chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar Assad
- “But the public is more supportive of military action when it’s limited to launching cruise missiles from U.S. naval ships — 50% favor that kind of intervention, while 44%oppose it.”
- “58% agree with the statement that the use of chemical weapons by any country violates a ‘red line’ that requires a significant U.S. response, including the possibility of military action.”
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