where they stand
The U.S. government said it has “high confidence” that Syria’s government carried out a chemical weapons attack. The U.S. chemical weapons assessment said Bashar Assad’s government used an unidentified nerve agent, and cites human and satellite intelligence that it said backs up publicly available video and other evidence.
Syria said U.S. administration claims were “flagrant lies” akin to faulty Bush administration assertions before the Iraq invasion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon privately briefed the five permanent members of the Security Council on the activities of the chemical weapons team. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the team has concluded its collection of evidence related to the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack, including visits to field hospitals, interviews with witnesses and doctors, and gathering biological samples and environmental samples. He said U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane will meet with Ban on Saturday to give him a report.
French President Francois Hollande said his country can go ahead with plans to strike Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons despite the British Parliament’s failure to endorse military action. He told the newspaper Le Monde that the “chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished.”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen from Copenhagen said the alliance has no plans for military action in Syria. He said approval for doing so would require the approval of all 28 NATO members.
Presidential foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov expressed puzzlement over why the U.N. team had finished its work “when there are many questions about a possible use of chemical weapons in other areas in Syria.” Russia and China have said that they would block any U.N. resolution that authorizes the use of force against Syria’s government.
Treasury chief George Osborne warned that Britain should not turn its back on the world after the stunning parliamentary defeat of a government motion for military intervention in Syria. He told the BBC there will be “national soul-searching” about Britain’s global role after the “no” vote.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany isn’t considering joining military action against Syria and hasn’t been asked by others to do so. Berlin has called for the international community to take a “clear position” following the alleged chemical attack.