Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday the United States is "absolutely certain" the Syrian regime is responsible for chlorine gas attacks on civilians.
President Obama has maintained in the past that chlorine bombs "have the effect of chemical weapons" but are not themselves chemical weapons. Obama also said chemical weapons have not "historically" been listed as chemical weapons. These claims helped justify his decision not to intervene in the war-torn country.
This decision has been called into question by the Syrian regime’s indiscriminate bombing of urban areas with chlorine barrel bombs.
It is also possible the regime has maintained stockpiles of Sarin and VX despite its pledge to disclose and destroy those chemicals, a promise that averted U.S. intervention in 2013.
Obama’s justification for non-intervention in Syria has drawn a fierce response from critics such as former Texas governor Rick Perry, who is emphasizing national security issues in his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
Perry released a statement on Tuesday attacking the administration’s Syria policy.
"President Obama said Assad must go, but did nothing to make it happen," the statement reads. "He said use of chemical weapons is a line Assad must not cross. Assad did, with no consequence. Now President Obama is left to argue chlorine gas attacks on the Syrian people are not chemical warfare. There is a great price to be paid when America does not lead, and innocent Syrian civilians are paying that price today."
Further complicating Obama’s narrative was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who said on Tuesday that "just because chlorine is a household product doesn’t make it not a chemical weapon when it is put in a barrel bomb and dropped on civilians."
Published under: Bashar al-Assad , Chemical Weapons , John Kerry