[QODLink]
Middle East

US assesses reported Syrian chemical use

Defence Secretary says US and allies are still trying to figure out details of Syria's suspected use of chemical arms.

Last Modified: 30 Apr 2013 05:01
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The US Defence Secretary has said that his country and its allies are still trying to figure out details of Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people.

"We are continuing to assess what happened - when, where," said Chuck Hagel on Monday.

"I think we should wait to get the facts before we make any judgments on what action, if any, should be taken, and what kind of action."

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, Hagel refused to discuss any military options including whether or not the US would be willing to take unilateral action against the Syrian regime or if the administration would act only in concert with allies.

The administration of Barack Obama, the US president, said last week that US intelligence had concluded that Syrian government forces likely used chemical agents against rebels in two attacks, but said there were "varying degrees of confidence" about how large an attack it may have been.

Attack sites

US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have said that chemical weapons - likely the nerve agent sarin - were used on two occasions.

Since then the administration has come under withering criticism from members of Congress demanding that the US take steps to protect the Syrian people by setting up either a safe zone or a no-fly zone over at least parts of the country.

International officials are pressing for broader access to suspected attack sites.

Syria, however, wants any investigation limited to an incident in the Khan al-Assal village in the Aleppo province in March that reportedly killed 31 people. However, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, wants a broader investigation that would include a December incident in Homs.

Obama has said that use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad's regime, or the transfer of those stockpiles to "terrorists" would cross a "red line" and have "enormous consequences".

307

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list