EU: Assad Is Likely Guilty, But Wait for UN Report

Representative calls chemical attack a 'war crime'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2013 12:49 PM CDT
Secretary of State John Kerry meets with European Union official Catherine Ashton in Lithuania Saturday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

(Newser) – The European Union officially weighed in on Syria today, and Reuters uses a very common phrase of late to describe its statement: "carefully worded." It says that, yes, a chemical weapons attack occurred, and yes, all the available information "seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible," but, no, the West shouldn't do anything until UN inspectors complete their own report. The statement from EU rep Catherine Ashton called the attack a "blatant violation of international law, a war crime, and a crime against humanity," reports the Guardian.

The EU position is essentially the same one staked out by France yesterday at the G20 summit: We think Assad is guilty, but we must wait for the UN report. That could come as early as Sept. 15, reports the New York Times, possibly around the same time that Congress votes on whether to authorize the use of force. The EU did not explicitly endorse military action, but said a "clear and strong response is crucial to make clear that such crimes are unacceptable and that there can be no impunity." (President Obama used his weekly radio address today to push for a strike, ahead of Tuesday's national address.)

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