Responding to Russia's skepticism of the evidence in the UN report on an August 21st chemical attack in Syria, John Kerry spoke again before a State Department briefing Thursday to re-make the country's case against the Assad regime. "We really don't have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts" regarding chemical weapons, Kerry said, calling for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution next week authorizing action to "rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons."
"The UN Security Council must be prepared to act next week," during the organization's General Assembly in New York, Kerry said. He added: "it is vital for the international community to stand up...let's not spend time debating what we already know." Kerry's tone grew increasingly exasperated over the course of his remarks, as he framed possible international action on Syria as a case of pointlessly arguing over two sets of facts. "For many weeks we heard from Russia and from others, wait for the U.N. report...despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise...the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling" as a result of that report. "Every single data point," he said, "every single bit of it confirms what we already knew." What we already knew, Kerry added, is the administration's long-asserted belief that the Assad regime used Sarin gas near Damascus in the widely-discussed attack.
"The UN report confirms unequivocally that chemical weapons including the nerve gas Sarin were used in Syria," Kerry said. That report, released earlier this week, does not blame either the Assad regime or the opposition for their use, though details from the report do suggest culpability on the part of the Syrian government — something both Syria and Russia deny. Speaking against their assertion that the opposition, and not the Syrian government, carried out the attacks, Kerry said that "there's not a shred of evidence" implicating the opposition.
Yesterday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad admitted to having a stockpile of chemical weapons, while refusing to engage his Fox News interviewers on the details of the UN report. Russia said on Wednesday that Syria had "new evidence" implicating the opposition on the August 21st attacks, after downplaying the UN report as selective and incomplete.