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Samantha Power: U.S. Seeking Culprit for 'Monstrous Weapon' in Syria

Power said all evidence suggests the regime of Bashar Assad carried out a chlorine gas attack.
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/ Source: NBC News

KUWAIT CITY — Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced $508 million in American aid on Tuesday for Syrians suffering because of the civil war — part of a world commitment of almost $4 billion.

In a speech at a humanitarian conference here, Power accused Bashar Assad, the Syrian president of using barrel bombs and perhaps chlorine gas to kill his own citizens.

“How else can we see the footage of three tiny children, lying motionless on operating tables, victims of one of multiple chemical attacks reported this month, which all evidence suggests the Assad regime perpetrated?” she said.

Power told NBC News that the United States is pushing to find out who is behind the attack “so that there can be culpability ascribed to the user of this monstrous weapon.” International monitors have not named a culprit.

In her speech, Power said that Assad dropped 2,000 barrel bombs in a single year, killing almost 6,500 people. She said that moderate Syrian opposition groups have made inroads against the regime because of a U.S. training program.

Coalition bombing of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has also freed the moderate rebels to fight Assad, she said.

Power said that Syria’s decent into chaos may convince Russia, Assad’s staunch ally, to encourage the regime to find a political solution.

“The fact of the matter is every day this conflict continues the more the state of Syria erodes, the more extremists and foreign terrorist fighters and so forth flock to the region,” she said. “That’s in no one’s interests, and I think perhaps it’s one of the reasons you’ve seen Russia taking a renewed interest in a political solution.”

The Syrian civil war has killed at least 220,000 people and displaced 11 million, according to the U.N. More than a quarter of the $3.8 billion committed at the conference on Tuesday came from the United States and Kuwait.