US unable to determine Syria chemical weapons use: Official

US unable to determine Syria chemical weapons use: Official

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US unable to determine Syria chemical weapons use: Official

A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows a Syrian couple mourning in front of bodies wrapped in shrouds ahead of funerals following what Syrian rebels claim to be a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21. AFP photo / Ho / Shaam News Network

The United States said Aug. 22 it has yet to "conclusively determine" that chemical weapons were used in an attack in Syria that allegedly killed hundreds of people.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Barack Obama had directed U.S. intelligence to gather information about the reported attack near Damascus.

"At this time right now, we are unable to conclusively determine CW use, but we are focused every minute of every day since these events happened yesterday on doing everything possible within our power to nail down the facts," Psaki said.

The main Syrian opposition group has charged that as many as 1,300 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack Wednesday near Damascus.

Obama has said that chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime would cross a U.S. "red line," but Washington so far has not acted on earlier reports of chemical weapons attacks.

"If these reports are true, it would be an outrageous and flagrant escalation of use of chemical weapons by the regime," Psaki said.

"The president of course has a range of options that we've talked about before that he can certainly consider and of course discuss with his national security team," she said.