UN chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where people affected by an apparent gas attack are being treated, in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya, yesterday.
BEIRUT/AMMAN: UN chemical weapons experts came under sniper fire yesterday on their way to investigate the scene of last week’s apparent poison gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus and Washington warned there must be accountability for those who would use “the world’s most heinous weapons.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the use of chemical weapons was undeniable and “there is very little doubt in our mind that the Syrian regime is culpable.”
In a sharply-worded warning to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, US Secretary of State John Kerry said President Barack Obama was consulting allies and members of Congress and would make an informed decision on how to respond to the August 21 attack. “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,” Kerry said.
“The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity,” he said. “By any standard, it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.” Military chiefs from the US and its European and Middle Eastern allies met in Jordan for what could be a council of war, should they decide to punish Syria.
About 1,300 people died in Damascus suburbs in what appears to have been the worst chemical weapons attack since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein fatally gassed thousands of Kurds in 1988. Syrian state TV blamed rebel “terrorists” for the shooting. The opposition blamed it on pro-Assad militiamen.
Kerry said Assad’s decision to allow access was too late to be credible. “That is not the behaviour of a government that has nothing to hide,” he added.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said any operation would be coordinated with allies.