U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday the United States has unequivocal
evidence the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons.
Vowing the mistakes of Iraq will not be repeated, Kerry said evidence gathered by the intelligence community shows 1,429 people, including 400 children, were killed in an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack, and the attack was launched by forces loyal to the Assad regime.
"We know three days before the attack, chemical weapons personnel were on the ground making preparations," Kerry said. "We know they were told to prepare for the attack and take precautions. ... We know from where rockets were launched ... what time ... where they landed ... and when."
Kerry, labeling Assad a "murderer," said the rockets came only from "regime-controlled areas" and hit only opposition-controlled or contested areas.
The only question now, he said, is what the United States will do.
"Our choices in history have great consequences. Our choice today will have great consequences," Kerry said, noting that after World War I the international community vowed to eradicate the use of chemical weapons.
Kerry set the stage for a U.S. response, saying other nations are waiting to see if Washington will stand by its word to deter other regimes from weapons programs that could endanger the world.
"We are the United States of America. We are the country that has ... always tried to honor a set of universal values," Kerry said. "This crime against conscience ... against humanity ... against the norm of the international community ... this matters to us.
"We are not alone in our condemnation and we are not alone in our will to act."
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