Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA new UN climate architecture is emerging focused on need for speed Xi says China will no longer build coal plants abroad Biden's post-Afghanistan focus on China is mostly positive so far MORE is “absolutely certain” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has launched chlorine attacks on its own people is currently compiling evidence to support it, he told reporters Tuesday.
“I am absolutely certain, we are certain that the preponderance of those attacks have been carried out by the regime,” Kerry said Tuesday during a surprise appearance at the State Department’s daily press briefing, noting that it’s possible that some members of the opposition could have used chlorine in attacks as well.
“It has been significantly documented; it’s dropped from airplane. The opposition isn’t flying airplanes or helicopters,” he said.
“And you can go through a certain sort of tracking of the delivery system and delivery approach. It’s frankly not that hard to pin down in the end, and that’s some of what we will lay out at the appropriate time.”
Kerry added that he’s discussed the findings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and, while he’s confident the Russians will raise the issue with Syria again, patience is “wearing thin” over the “extraordinary depravity” of the weapons Assad is allegedly using against his own people.
“We are not simply sitting there and allowing this to happen without any efforts to see if there is a way to stop it,” Kerry said. “Thus far, it has not been stopped and it is only increasing the international community’s anger at the Assad regime.”
President Obama had called for military action against Syria in 2013 after Assad used chemical weapons against Syrians. But Congress balked, leaving Obama without authorization.
Since then, America has had a sort of truce with Syria as it fights the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The administration’s calls for Assad to step down have moved onto the backburner in favor of the campaign against ISIS, the terror group that Syria is also fighting.
But Kerry accused Assad of ignoring the fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL, in favor of attacking his citizens.
“ISIL is attacking a community up there which could close off the movement of human assistance if they were to be successful, and Assad has never tried to lay a finger on them, never attacked them,” Kerry said.
“Instead, he has dropped barrel bombs on civilians in Aleppo.”