White House Reaction on Reported Syrian Chemical Weapon Use

WH Deputy Press Sec'y Josh Earnest discusses the Obama administration's next steps with Syria.
7:06 | 08/21/13

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Transcript for White House Reaction on Reported Syrian Chemical Weapon Use
This is a special report from ABC news. Hello everyone I'm -- Hernandez in New York this ABC news digital special report rebels in serious -- -- regime has used chemical weapons against civilians. Disturbing video online showing kids convulsed thing and foaming at the mouth. The rebels say hundreds of people were killed the amateur images too disturbing to show here. -- to show the aftermath of a chemical weapon attack by the Syrian government against civilians near Damascus. The government denies the attack in the images have not been independently verified. The White House says it is looking -- the attacks very closely the alleged attack. And -- CUN investigation can uncover the truth in while White House deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said giving. Went on to give the administration's response and to give us more insight into the White House reaction we're joined by ABC's Mary Bruce. Mary can you sum up what the White House had to say and what the reaction to their response has been. Ask him out and condemned once again the use of any chemical weapons in Syria or anywhere for that matter but the what is. Testing the president's -- -- when it comes to Syria right now. The president has long said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a game changer would elicit a response from -- -- from his administration. Now remember that two months ago the Obama administration came out and -- that there has been evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And in response they stepped up -- some assistants to the opposition forces there. But this attack today if confirmed would be shocking escalation of the use of chemical weapons and -- looking to see what the White House does next and so far all we're hearing -- -- words from the White House essentially they've. Condemns this attack if so they're deeply concerned about is this alleged attack in the reports of this but right now we're waiting to see what they'll do next time. Came and let's listen in Josh Earnest himself. Given the reports that we've seen overnight about what may or may not have taken place in Syria we think it's important for that investigative team. To be given access. To that area. All right -- the timing of the attack is interesting Josh -- they're talking about the UN team already in place and -- they had. Plan on investigating prior allegations of chemical warfare. You know many say would be pretty extreme for a son to then. Conduct another episode -- chemical warfare if indeed that is true when the you an investigative team is already in place in Syria. -- the what is trying to pressure the establishing to allow an investigation as you mentioned there's a UN team on the ground in Syria right now. -- investigate these previous reports of the use of chemical weapons. And in the past soccer team president Scott has said he's willing to get to the bottom of these reports. And these attacks because he claims -- that he's not responsible for and the White House is essentially saying that. They decided nothing to hide then why not let these UN investigators come -- speak to the witnesses of this alleged attack. And and investigate that. Seen ultimately though what does the US and nor the US do with those investigators aren't allowed in this -- Completely -- women will of the Syrian government. Absolutely and that's really the question now you -- of course that the UN investigators they aren't there there on the ground in Syria so in some ways he would like to think that that gives them a little bit more leverage to -- to get some access to this scene right now but. For now all the White House and its international partners can do is set to meet amongst themselves and to help -- pressure verbally -- averaging to allow them. To investigate. America White House had a hedge response. As to. You know if the allegations turned out to be true let's listen to Josh Earnest when. How this is gonna affect our policy as it relates the Asad regime will continue to involve our consultations with our international partners. We are providing some assistance to the opposition and even -- Syrian military council. Mary -- they're talking about aiding the rebels the White House had promised at least some light arms but what do we know about whether they deliver them. What -- -- very tight lipped about the -- the assistance that's being provided right out of the opposition we do know is you mentioned. That there is some direct support that's the phrase -- is direct support being surprise supplied. To the military opposition there. In Syria and we also know that the US is of course providing a vast amount of humanitarian aid the US is currently the largest. Supply of humanitarian aid to -- civilian to civilians in Syria and also of course -- -- refugees but. He -- form of what this military assistance looks like we don't know and that's something that that we are moving to find out more about -- Coming days and of course is certainly concerns about any arms potentially falling into the wrong hands. They don't necessarily know. -- all of the rebels are what groups are represented with in the rebel forces within Syria including the possibility that there's an am -- different. Absolutely and that's a big concern for the president and this administration the president has said himself that. Some the opposition members may not exactly be friendly towards the United States and there is some concern the president -- using this interesting phrase that providing. Arms some of the -- for the invasion Willy -- might not be such a good idea so this is absolutely -- concern that any weapons for arms -- the US supplies to the opposition might fall into the wrong hands. -- the White House did admit what you. I had not done in Syria and -- it -- the White House did admit. That Syria -- not done what it has wanted I should say let's listen to Josh turner. We we have not attain our goal yet here which is the removal of aside from power and again. We are seeking -- removal not just because. It's our preference but because it's the will of the Syrian people. OK -- talk about removal but not much out and no mention about. Famous red line the Red Line now that President Obama mentioned us in terms of the use of chemical weapons here. Again no definitive action that might trigger bigger response -- -- saying this makes the Obama administration of the week. That's right so far there's been a lot of condemnation but not a lot of consequences for crossing this red line this game changing red line of the president's. All we've heard from from the administration today so far is that they're consulting with our international partners -- continuing to pressure the Asad regime. But this a lot of people question a lot of the administration's critics. Question -- what really -- to be threatened by the US anymore and whether these threats from from the Obama administration are backed up by any punitive consequences. And it stretches beyond just Syria you know we've seen recently. The Obama administration is as threaten the interim government in in Egypt they would like them to stop any violence there we've seen. With Russia and the US in the Obama administration of course requesting them to turn -- infamous and a state -- Edwards noted that didn't come true. So there's sort of this building pressuring question about. Whether whether any of these threats and any of these harsh words from the Obama administration what they really mean and what the consequences all of this really has. Right ABC's Mary -- really good at that thank you for joining us. From the white house of course -- get a complete update on Syria right here. On abcnews.com. For now on -- Hernandez in new York and this has been an ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from the.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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