Secretary of State John Kerry spoke extensively today during a State Department briefing on last week’s alleged chemical attack in Syria. The attack reportedly left 3,000 people injured and over 300 dead.
Kerry condemned the use of chemical warfare, calling it a “moral obscenity.” Kerry reiterated that government officials believe the Syrian government carried out the attacks on their citizens.
“It is hard to express in words the human suffering that they lay out before us,” Kerry said. “As a father, I cannot get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing while chaos swirled around him. The images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of life or even a visible wound. Bodies contorting in spasms. Human suffering that we can never ignore or forget.”
Earlier today, Russia Today reported that Russian President Vladmir Putin told U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron that no evidence exists that a chemical attack took place in Syria. But White House press secretary Jay Carney reported today that U.N. investigators were in Syria today collecting evidence and chemical samples from the attack.
Kerry dismissed Putin’s claim, saying “What is before us today is real, and it is compelling… Our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience and guided by common sense.
“Anyone who can claim an attack of this staggering scale can be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass.”
The Obama administration has referred to the use of chemical warfare as a “red line” that would elicit a response from many of the world’s powers. The U.S. Navy has already moved naval forces to the Mediterranean in order to give President Obama as much strategic flexibility as possible if the United States chooses to intervene in Syria with military forces.
“Make no mistake,” Kerry said. “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”
A recent poll commissioned by Reuters shows that a majority of Americans oppose U.S. military involvement in Syria.