Syria crisis: US has evidence that sarin gas was used in alleged attack, claims John Kerry

Obama administration says tests from emergency workers bolster case for attack

The Obama administration has evidence that sarin was used by Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the attack on a Damascus suburb on 21 August, which killed more than 1,400 people, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said on Sunday. It was the first time the US has named the chemical weapon that it accuses the Syrians of using.

The US cited new evidence as the United Nations team sent to Syria last month to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons prepared to send its samples to laboratories.

Mr Kerry, who said sarin had been identified in tests on samples taken from emergency workers responding to the attack, declared that the case for military action in Syria was growing “more powerful by the day”.

He told CNN’s State of the Union show on Sunday morning: “Blood and hair samples that have come to us through an appropriate chain of custody from east Damascus from first responders – it has tested positive for signatures of sarin.” In similar comments on other US networks, he said that as the evidence stacks up the administration was confident Congress would authorise the use of US force in Syria in response to the attack.

But he also reiterated Barack Obama’s assertion on Saturday that the administration had the “right” to respond no matter what Congress does, leaving open the possibility of intervention even if politicians object when they return from their summer recess on 9 September.

At the United Nations, the  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke on the telephone with Dr Ake Sellstrom, the head of the UN team that returned to The Hague over the weekend after collecting samples from Syria.

The samples will be transferred to laboratories today and the  Secretary-General asked Dr Sellstrom to expedite the analysis process and report the results to him as soon as possible, the UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters at the international body’s headquarters in New York. He also disclosed that two Syrian officials were observing the process, as per the guidelines followed by the UN team.

Asked when the results might be available, Mr Nesirky said: “We are not giving a timeline.”

The UN did, however, assert that its inspection team was “uniquely capable of establishing in an impartial and credible manner” the substance of claims regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Earlier, the focus shifted from the possibility of an imminent US military strike on Syria to the provenance and credibility of the evidence on chemical weapons when Mr Obama said he would seek Congressional approval for any action.

While the Senate is expected to back an attack on Mr Assad’s regime, uncertainty remains about the stance of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

As his administration works to shore up support in Washington, Mr Obama will later this week come face to face with one of the chief international opponents of intervention: the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, a key backer of the Assad regime. Both leaders will be in attendance at the G-20 heads of government meeting in St Petersburg on Thursday and Friday.

While Mr Obama has publicly chided Russia for blocking the UN Security Council from acting on Syria, Mr Putin has questioned the wisdom of intervention, saying this weekend: “We need to remember what’s happened in the last decade, the number of times the United States has initiated armed conflicts in various parts of the world. Has it solved a single problem?”

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home