Secretary of State John Kerry laid out the evidence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons Friday in a speech at the State Department, along with a U.S. Government report detailing the evidence for Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
Calling Assad a “thug” and a “murderer,” Kerry made the case that the embattled Syrian dictator must face retribution, but stopped short of outlining a specific plan for U.S. intervention.
The report states with “high confidence” that Syrian government forces killed at least 1,429 people, including 426 children in Damascus suburbs on August 21.
Assad has one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the Middle East, Kerry said.
Kerry also framed the U.S. response explicitly in terms of deterrence, claiming that Iran would feel emboldened in the absence of action to obtain nuclear weapons. “It is about Hezbollah and North Korea and every other terrorist group or dictator that might ever again contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Kerry said. “Will they remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons’ current or future use? Or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?”
“Now, we know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war,” Kerry said, alluding to the conflicts in Iraq in Afghanistan. “But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.”
“History would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction.”