Secretary of State John Kerry made the case that “thug” and “murderer” Bashar al-Assad must face retribution, as the White House released a report (see below) detailing its evidence on the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons last week.
“Its findings are as clear as they are compelling,” Kerry said of the report, adding that the credibility of the U.S. was at stake in responding. “… The intelligence community has high confidence.”
In his approximately 19-minute statement, Kerry said that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in the chemical weapons attack, based on evidence gathered. The 1,429 included 426 children.
Kerry’s statement came as President Barack Obama continues to move ahead with plans for limited strikes in Syria, despite a lack of broad support from allies and a lack of Congressional authorization. Kerry said, however, that doing nothing was “not an option,” and that there would be consequences if nothing was done — particularly with other regimes who could be emboldened to use chemical weapons.
“The primary question is no longer what do we know,” Kerry said. “It is what are we in the world going to do about it?”
On Thursday, Britain’s House of Commons stunningly rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion for military action in Syria. France, however, is still prepared to go along with action.
Kerry also assured a war-weary nation that intervention in Syria would not mirror recent occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, or even the lesser-scale intervention in Libya in 2011.
“American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of responsibility,” Kerry said.
Below is the full report of the U.S. government’s declassified assessment of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons:
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