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White House says ‘very little doubt’ about Syrian chemical attacks

The UK prime minister pressed President Obama to convene emergency session of UN Security Council, Britain's The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.
/ Source: The Last Word

The UK prime minister pressed President Obama to convene emergency session of UN Security Council, Britain's The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

An activist wearing a gas mask is seen in Zamalka area, where activists say chemical weapons have been used by forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the eastern suburbs of Damascus August 22, 2013. (Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)

The White House Sunday signaled growing impatience with Bashar al-Assad’s regime after UN chemical weapons inspectors were denied access to the alleged site of an August 21st attack against civilians, NBC News’ Kristen Welker reported.

In a statement issued Sunday, officials said the delay tactic left little doubt that neurotoxins had been used in the attack, which left hundreds dead and thousands more injured.

“If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN – five days ago.  At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime’s persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days.  Based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts, and other facts gathered by open sources, the U.S. intelligence community, and international partners, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident.  We are continuing to assess the facts so the President can make an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.”

On Saturday, President Obama Saturday spoke with the UK Prime Minister David Cameron about Syria and security challenges.

Cameron told Obama that the UN should convene an emergency session of the Security Council to give Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an opportunity to disarm,

The tete-a-tete came as four American destroyers carrying Tomahawk missiles moved closer to Syria Saturday night, according to the Telegraph.

White House officials did not confirm specifics of what the two leaders discussed, but did say that the reported use of chemical weapons against civilians by the al-Assad regime was of grave concern.

Last week, UN inspectors arrived in Syria to conduct an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons, which Obama had called a “red line” for the U.S. Reports of the August 21 attacks estimate that hundreds, mostly women and children, were killed outside of Damascus.

Earlier Saturday, President Obama had met with his national security advisers to discuss the American response to the ongoing war in Syria.