The Obama administration is “working urgently” to gather information about reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s used chemical weapons in attacks near Damascus that left more than 1,000 people dead, the White House said in a statement.
The U.S. is asking the United Nations to investigate the allegation and “is deeply concerned” by the reports, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said. The administration is joining calls from Britain and France for a United Nations probe. The UN Security Council scheduled a meeting this afternoon on the allegations.
The U.S. “strongly condemns any and all use of chemical weapons,” Earnest said. “Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable.”
The latest allegation that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons comes a year after President Barack Obama said that using such arms would be a “red line” that would prompt a change in how the U.S. responds to the conflict in Syria.
“If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the UN team’s immediate and unfettered access to this site,” Earnest said in the statement.