Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Syria: Use of chemical weapons is 'undeniable' says John Kerry

John Kerry addressed the issue of Syria's use of chemical weapons at a briefing on Monday
John Kerry addressed the issue of Syria's use of chemical weapons at a briefing on Monday
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 26: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement about the use of chemical weapons in Syria at the Department of State August 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Kerry said that chemical weapons had been used to kill scores of people during the ongoing civil war in Syria and that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used shelling to destroy the evidence. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 26: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement about the use of chemical weapons in Syria at the Department of State August 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Kerry said that chemical weapons had been used to kill scores of people during the ongoing civil war in Syria and that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used shelling to destroy the evidence. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 26: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement about the use of chemical weapons in Syria at the Department of State August 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Kerry said that chemical weapons had been used to kill scores of people during the ongoing civil war in Syria and that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used shelling to destroy the evidence. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
John Kerry addressed the issue of Syria's use of chemical weapons at a briefing on Monday
Black columns of smoke rise from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood, east of Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013
Black columns of smoke rise from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood, east of Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations on Sunday to allow a U.N. team of experts to visit the site of alleged chemical weapons attacks last week outside Damascus, state media said. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Mekdad said Syria is cooperating with a U.N. team that is investigating an alleged chemical attack last week and vowed the country will defend itself if the U.S. or others launch military action against it. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Black columns of smoke rise from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood, east of Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations on Sunday to allow a U.N. team of experts to visit the site of alleged chemical weapons attacks last week outside Damascus, state media said. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - AUGUST 26: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis wait in line to pick their gas masks at a distribution center on August 26, 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Israel keeps distributing gas masks to its civilian population as tension rises in Israel amid international talks of a military intervension In Syria. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
Syrian refugees cross into Iraq amid continued fighting, with reports of a 'poisonous gas' attack near the capital Damascus

US secretary of state John Kerry has said the use of chemical weapons in Syria is 'undeniable' as UN inspectors faced gun fire in the country earlier today.

Kerry made the announcement during a state briefing this evening.

He said what was witnessed in Syria last week should "shock the conscience of the world".

"It defies any code of morality...the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity."

"The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict on Syria itself."

The US secretary of state accused president Bashar Assad of destroying evidence.

Ratcheting up criticism of Syria's alleged chemical weapons use, Mr Kerry called last week's attack a "moral obscenity".

He said the US has additional information about the attack and will make it public in the days ahead.

Mr Kerry said shelling the affected area afterwards was not the action of a government trying to co-operate with UN investigators trying to assess what happened.

The alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed hundreds of people has moved the US closer to military action against Syria than at any point during the bloody civil war.

Assad has denied launching a chemical attack.

It comes as international tensions worsened when UN weapons inspectors came under sniper fire as they sought to investigate a deadly attack blamed by Western nations on the Assad regime.

Prime Minister David Cameron is breaking off from his holiday to continue a round of calls with world leaders amid mounting speculation that the UK could join international military action.

He will chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday to discuss potential responses to the deadly attack which killed hundreds but Foreign Secretary William Hague declined to rule out air strikes within days.

Force may be the only remaining option after the failure of diplomatic efforts to end the bloody violence in Syria, he said, insisting that it could be deployed legally even without Russian support at the UN Security Council.

The inspectors were travelling to the site of the attack in a suburb of Damascus after the regime - which blames any chemical weapon use on opposition forces - gave its permission almost a week after the incident.

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