Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stood shoulder-to-shoulder today to say the two countries are united in their belief that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad must be punished for unleashing chemical weapons on his own people.
“This is our chance to join together and pursue accountability over appeasement. We in the United States know and our French partners know that this is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter,” Kerry said.
“What we are talking about is standing together and speaking with one voice in opposition to a clear violation of a red line the world has defended for nearly 100 years,” he said.
Kerry, who was in Paris today, is traveling Europe to try to build international support for a military strike on Syria, as in the United States the Obama administration has been trying to build support in Congress and among the American people.
French President Francois Hollande said Friday that any strike should be put off until the United Nations releases a full report on its inspectors’ investigation of the suspected attack.
Fabius said today during his joint appearance with Kerry that he does not believe the wait will be long.
“We have been told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that the report will be delivered very soon,” he said.
European foreign ministers today endorsed a “clear and strong response” to the chemical weapons attack, which they agreed strongly points to the Syrian government, but they urged the U.S. to delay possible military action until U.N. inspectors report their findings.
The U.S. says 1,429 people died, including 426 children, in the attack Aug. 21 in the Damascus suburbs. According to U.S. intelligence reports, sarin gas was used in the attack.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information from a network of anti-regime activists, says it has so far confirmed only 502 dead in the attack.
Videos of victims of the suspected chemical weapons attack were leaked to CNN, which reported that they came from the information packet given to select members of Congress to win their support for military action.
The videos show victims in makeshift hospitals, many of them twitching or convulsing, seemingly unable to control their movements.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.