Blood and hair samples collected from the chemical attack site in Syria have “tested positive for signatures of sarin gas”,US Secretary of State John Kerry today said as he pushed for a military strike against the Assad regime over its alleged use of the deadly weapon. Doing rounds of Sunday talk shows on multiple news channels,Kerry said these samples were collected independently through an “appropriate chain of custody”.
His remarks came a day after US President Barack Obama announced his decision of a military strike against Syria for use of chemical weapons against its own people in violation of the well-established international norms. The US alleges that more than 1,400 people including over 400 children died in the chemical attack near Damascus by the embattled regime on August 21.
“We know that the regime ordered this attack,we know they prepared for it,” Kerry told the ‘State of the Union’ on CNN.
“We know where the rockets came from. We know where they landed. We know the damage that was done afterwards. We’ve seen the horrific scenes all over the social media,and we have evidence of it in other ways,and we know that the regime tried to cover up afterwards,so the case is really an overwhelming case,” he said in response to a question.
“In the last 24 hours,we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States that have now been tested from first responders in east Damascus and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of Sarin,” Kerry told NBC’s ‘Meet The Press’.
“So this case is building and this case will build,” the top American diplomat said.
Sarin is a man-made chemical warfare agent considered the most toxic. It attacks the nervous system.
During the interviews,Kerry defended the decision of Obama to seek a Congressional authorisation on a military strike against the Assad regime.
Kerry,a former Senator for decades,hoped Obama would be able to get the necessary authorisation from the Congress. The move,Kerry argued,will make the US “stronger in the end” should the country decide to move forward with a strike.
“It’s amazing to me to see people suddenly standing up and taking such affront at the notion that Congress ought to weigh in. I mean,I can hear the complaints that would have taken place if the president proceeded unilaterally and people say,’Well why didn’t you take the time to consult?’,” he said.
Kerry exuded confidence that the Congress would give the authorisation for the military action.
“I don’t believe that my former colleagues in the United States Senate and the House will turn their backs on all of our interests,on the credibility of our country,on the norm with respect to the enforcement of the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons,which has been in place since 1925,” he told the NBC news.
However,Kerry would not say if Obama would act even if he did not get authorisation from the Congress. “I said that the President has the authority to act,but the Congress is going to do what’s right here,” Kerry told the NBC news.
However,Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that the information US is trying to use to prove the use of sarin or other chemical agents is “absolutely unconvincing”.
Speaking at Russia’s top diplomatic school,Lavrov said,”Yes,they showed us some findings but there was nothing specific there. They gave no geographic coordinates,no names and no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals. What our American,British and French partners showed us in the past and have showed just recently is absolutely unconvincing,and when you ask for more detailed proof they say all of this is classified so we cannot show this to you”.
Meanwhile,anxious to track US moves in Mediterranean,Russia sent a reconnaissance vessel,SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye,which started its voyage from the Black Sea coast “to the appointed region of military service in the eastern Mediterranean,” a military source told the Interfax news agency.
Russia has been the principle opponent of western moves for military intervention in Syria,stalling it by the use of its mandate in the United Nations Security Council.