Kerry Defends Obama's Decision to Wait for Congress, Says Sarin Gas Was Used
Just on the heel of Obama's surprising decision to delay military strikes on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has said that there is now new evidence to prove that Sarin gas was used by the Syrian regime on August 21.
"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 Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press.
This new evidence comes following Obama's announcement Saturday that military force should and will be used in Syria as punishment for the August 21 chemical attack that killed over 1,400 civilians — but that he will wait for congressional approval before any further actions are taken.
Sarin — a liquid that is colorless, tasteless and odorless, becoming a lethal gas if evaporated — was developed in Germany as a pesticide in 1938.
Kerry took the opportunity to push for Congressional support, saying, “I can’t contemplate that Congress would turn its back on Israel and Jordan and the allies of the region.”
He also stressed that delaying a military response would not weaken America's position.
“We do not lose anything, we actually gain,” Mr. Kerry said. “And what we gain is the legitimacy of the full-throated response of the Congress of the United States and the president acting together.”
But Obama's announcement has drawn criticism from both sides of the Syrian divide.
Syrian state-run Al-Thawra news agency wrote of Obama's decision that it marks "the beginning of the historic American retreat," while the opposition Syrian National Coalition called the delay a "failure in leadership."
"We can't understand how you can promise to help those who are being slaughtered every day in the hundreds, giving them false hope, then change your mind and say let's wait and see," the Coalition said.
Many still remain skeptical of the efficacy of a targeted military strike, with a top Republican aide saying that “the White House is going to have to make a major effort to make the case for any military action to Congress and the American people."
Congress will convene the week of September 9 to discuss and vote on the action.
You can watch part of Kerry's interview here: