The US has evidence that the chemical nerve agent Syrian Sarin was used in a deadly attack in Damascus last month, Secretary of State John Kerry says.
He said samples from hair and blood gathered after the attack “tested positive for signatures of sarin”. The US blames the Syrian government for the 21 August attack. President Barack Obama has vowed punitive action but wants Congress to vote on it first. The biggest and deadliest apparent attack took place on 21 August in east Damascus. The US says more than 1,400 people were killed.
Washington said only the Damascus government has the capacity to launch such an attack. Syria has denied it was responsible and blames the rebels. Mr Kerry implied that the US evidence was supplied by its own sources, rather than via the UN inspectors.
“In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States that have now been tested from first responders in east Damascus and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of Sarin,” Kerry said on NBC’s Meet The Press. “So this case is building and this case will build.” Mr Kerry also said he was confident that Congress would give its approval for the US to launch strikes against Syria after it reconvenes on 9 September.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remained defiant on Sunday, saying: “Syria… is capable of facing up to any external aggression just as it faces up to internal aggression every day, in the form of terrorist groups and those that support them.” More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict, and at least 1.7 million have become refugees.