NORMAN — The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Here’s a look at key Syria developments around the world Friday amid heightened tensions over potential military action:
United States: The U.S. government said it has “high confidence” that Syria’s government carried out a chemical weapons attack — killing 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than what Syrian activists and aid workers have reported from Syria. The U.S. chemical weapons assessment said Assad’s government used an unidentified nerve agent, and cites human and satellite intelligence that it said backs up publicly available videos and other evidence.
Syria: U.N. experts completed a final day of on-site visits in their investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. Shops and supermarkets in Damascus were filled with people stocking up on bread, canned food and candles ahead of expected strikes, but there were no apparent signs of panic or shortages. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the chemical weapons investigators visited a military hospital in Damascus in response to the Syrian government’s allegations of three chemical weapons attack against Syrian soldiers earlier this month. The team will leave Syria today.
United Nations: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon privately briefed the five permanent members of the Security Council on the activities of the chemical weapons team. Nesirky said the team has concluded its collection of evidence related to the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack, including visits to field hospitals, interviews with witnesses and doctors, and gathering biological samples and environmental samples. He said U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane will meet with Ban in New York on Saturday to give him a report on the investigation.