Chemical Concerns

By Christopher J. Castelli / August 21, 2013 at 4:21 PM

The White House is "deeply concerned by reports that hundreds of Syrian civilians have been killed in an attack by Syrian government forces, including by the use of chemical weapons, near Damascus earlier today," Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "We are working urgently to gather additional information." The U.S. government "strongly condemns any and all use of chemical weapons," he said, adding those responsible for the use of such weapons must be held accountable.

"Today, we are formally requesting that the United Nations urgently investigate this new allegation," Earnest said. "The U.N. investigative team, which is currently in Syria, is prepared to do so, and that is consistent with its purpose and mandate. For the U.N.’s efforts to be credible, they must have immediate access to witnesses and affected individuals, and have the ability to examine and collect physical evidence without any interference or manipulation from the Syrian government." The U.S. government has also called for "urgent consultations in the U.N. Security Council to discuss these allegations and to call for the Syrian government to provide immediate access to the U.N. investigative team."