Kerry: Assad Must Be Punished

He says the US has 'high confidence' Syria used chemical weapons

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2013 12:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – John Kerry said today the US is sure that Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people in Syria, and that letting him go unpunished would set too dangerous a precedent for the world. The secretary of state said the US has "high confidence" in its intelligence and urged people to read an unclassified report released today. As for the comparisons to the run-up to Iraq in 2003, replete with faulty evidence: "We will not repeat that moment." The secretary of state said Assad has used chemical weapons "multiple times this year," and he asserted that the most recent high-profile assault on Damascus suburbs killed at least 1,429 people, including 426 children, reports AP. (He called Assad a "thug and murderer.")

The question now isn't what we know, but "what are we and the world going to do about it?” said Kerry, per the New York Times. The US would continue making its case to Congress and the UN, but he said the White House is prepared to move forward with limited military action regardless. Sending a message on chemical weapons “matters deeply to the credibility and the future interests of the United States," he said. (At least France would be on board, notes Reuters.) Yes, Americans are tired of war, said Kerry. But "fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility." Read the full transcript of his statement here. After Kerry spoke, President Obama made brief comments reiterating that the US is considering a "limited, narrow act" but that a final decision hasn't been made, reports the Washington Post. “We’re not considering any open-ended commitment," he said. "We are not considering any boots on the ground approach." (Meanwhile, is Assad's young son taunting the US on Facebook?)

Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement about Syria Friday.
Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement about Syria Friday.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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