Friday, Aug. 30, at a news conference in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a ringing statement accusing Bashar Assad of responsibility for the lethal poison gas attack on Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21. His words signaled the start of the countdown for the US military strike on Syria, which DEBKAfile’s military sources estimate could be launched from Friday night until US Labor Day on Sept. 2.
Kerry laid out the evidence put before congressional leaders that the Syrian government had that day fired chemical weapons at 11 separate sites in and around Damascus, launching them from regime-held areas against rebel-controlled neighborhoods. At least 1,429 Syrians died in the attack, 426 children among them. US intelligence had records of orders being given to chemical weapons teams to launch the attack three days earlier and shown making preparations wearing gas masks.
The Secretary went on to say, “With our own eyes we saw victims writhing in agony from the symptoms of poison gas. We know they were ordinary Syrian citizens who suffered these horrors. We know that the doctors and nurses didn’t need to dress bloody wounds. Not a drop of blood was seen. We saw children dead from Assad’s gas surrounded by parents and grand parents who were victims. The medical staff treating the wounded were themselves overcome by the poison fumes.
Kerry said most of the evidence obtained by US intelligence had been released to the public.