'Very little doubt' chemical weapons used in Syria: US official
WASHINGTON - Agence France-PresseAn U.S. official said Aug. 25 there was "very little doubt" Syrian forces used chemical weapons on civilians and dismissed an offer by Damascus for a U.N. team to view the attack site.
The comments marked a significant escalation of a showdown over the horrific attack which killed 1,300 people last week, at a time when Washington appeared to positioning itself for possible military action.
Officials said U.S. President Barack Obama, who held crisis talks Aug. 24 with top aides, would make an "informed decision" about how to respond to an "indiscriminate" chemical weapons attack.
The official told AFP that based on the reported number of victims and their symptoms, and U.S. and foreign intelligence, "there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident." The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Washington had noted that Syria had offered to let U.N. inspectors to view the site of the alleged attack on Aug. 25, but suggested it was too little, too late.
"If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the U.N. five days ago," the official said.
"At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the U.N. team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime's persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days."