White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that images of Syrian rebels allegedly killed by chemical weapons are “nothing short of horrifying,” and the U.S. is “appalled” by the reports.
Reports have shown rows of dead bodies allegedly killed by chemical weapons. Reports of death tolls have ranged from 100 to 1,000.
Earnest made his comments aboard Air Force One en route to Buffalo, N.Y., where President Obama is embarking on a two-day bus tour to speak about college affordability.
"I think the fact that we are doing this bus tour is an indication that the President has his priorities straight while he continues to monitor what is an increasingly tragic situation in Syria," Earnest said.
The Syrian government has denied the reports. However, the administration concluded two months ago that President Bashar Assad's forces had used chemical weapons and said it would be sending small arms to the rebels.
On Wednesday, Earnest said he had “no independent confirmation” of the latest use of chemicals weapons but was consulting with allies in the region. He said anyone responsible for the use of chemical weapons would be held accountable.
“If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the UN team’s immediate and unfettered access to this site,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
The Obama administration also joined with allies Wednesday to press the United Nations for an “urgent” investigation after the U.N. Security Council called for more clarity in the matter.