"If it’s what it looks like, it is clearly a war crime," said a senior State Department official, adding that the government was still gathering information.
A U.S. government source said Washington believed the chemical agent sarin was used in the attack and that it was "almost certainly" carried out by forces loyal to Assad.
"Those outside backers who are said to be guarantors of the (Assad) regime obviously have a lot to answer for,” the State Department official said, referring to Russia and Iran, which have provided military backing for Assad.
I know, you're thinking this chemical attack is impossible because President Obama, super genius that he is, and his idiot savant secretary of state Kerry negotiated a deal to remove Assad's chemical weapons after Assad crossed the president's "red line" against using poison gas:
The Assad regime ordered the use of chemical weapons on Ghouta [on August 21, 2013]. In so doing, it clearly violated President Barack Obama's now infamous August 2012 "red line" forbidding the use of chemical weapons against civilians by Assad's forces. Obama was saying he would not permit a war crime of that magnitude on his watch.
But when Assad crossed the red line, Obama failed to take punitive military action. Obama failed to support his strong words, exhibiting what Sean Spicer identified as "weakness and irresolution."
Obama tried to obscure his fecklessness by making a deal with Vladimir Putin. Russia would assume control Syrian chemical weapons then move the weapons out of Syria and destroy them. That deal didn't alter the bottom line to the red line: Assad committed a war crime forbidden by an American president, and did so with impunity.
Syrians have suffered scores of chemical attacks since 2013, many involving chlorine. In March 2017, two attacks occurred where Assad's forces allegedly used sarin.
Somehow, against all the odds, Assad still has chemical weapons. Go figure.
Funny that Assad wasn't content to use chlorine gas not covered in the deal (although still illegal to use as a weapon) but used a purpose-made poison gas.
I guess Assad wants to rub our nose in our failure to stop him and our apparent willingness to let him survive this civil war. Showing rebels that Assad can crush them by any means necessary without anyone doing a damn thing is surely useful.
One wonders whether the compassionate class will yell about Assad's killing spree that includes this weapon when the total body count in Syria is heading toward half a million now.
I'm so old that I remember when the Obama administration went to war against Khaddaffi of Libya--without Congressional affirmative authorization--under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine.
And you have to wonder if the Obama deal to ban Iran's nuclear ambitions will be any better than the Obama deal to ban Assad's chemical weapons.
Have a just lovely nuanced day as we are reminded of just how badly the Obama administration sucked.
We've struck Assad. We must kill him (and his regime) after ISIL is defeated or he will resume his hostility and body count of Americans that have been suspended by this civil war.
Statements that the Syrian people will decide the fate of Assad--as if we have no role--make me worry that we will refuse to work against Assad. Is this a walk back?
The United States does not believe that the Syrian people want President Bashar al-Assad as their leader any longer, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Monday.
Assado Delenda Est. And the Iranian horse he rode in on.
UPDATE: President Trump said the attack can't be tolerated.
We'll see. President Obama and the international community tolerated 500,000-dead worth of inaction in regard to Assad so far.
UPDATE: My interest in defeating the Assad regime predates ISIL, but since America launched Iraq War 2.0 my interest has always been in having a final stage, after defeating ISIL in Iraq and then in Syria, that targets Assad:
The fourth step is to continue the win over ISIL by helping non-jihadi Syrian rebels in the east, in the south, and in the north to overthrow Assad. I'm not sure the Obama administration is on board with this final step.
This is more important than ever because Assad owes so much to Iran and Russia which Assad will pay if he survives this civil war.
UPDATE: Remember that arguments against toppling Assad rely on the idea that deposing him would collapse Syria's government and allow ISIL to exploit the void.
But our campaigns against ISIL have dramatically reduced ISIL to 10,000 fighters split between Iraq and Syria; and Assad-run Syria has already fragmented into near-war lord regional commands that would survive the loss of the center and perhaps give the regional commanders reason to switch sides.
Defeating Assad is no gift to ISIL.
UPDATE: Syria makes a very specific denial while Turkey conducted autopsies:
Foreign Minister Walid Moallem reiterated that stance on Thursday, telling reporters in Damascus that his government never used and will not use chemical weapons in Syria.
"The Syrian Arab Army has never used chemical weapons and will not use chemical weapons against Syrians and even against terrorists," Moallem told the news conference.
In Turkey, state-run Anadolu and the private DHA news agencies quoted Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying that "it was determined after the autopsy that a chemical weapon was used."
The Syrian army didn't use chemical weapons? What about the air force or perhaps a civilian organization?
Meanwhile, the Turks confirm the use of poison gas.
But who thinks the UN Security Council will do anything with Russia's (and China's) veto standing in the way?
Britain, France and the United States on Wednesday held off calling a vote at the UN Security Council on a resolution demanding an investigation of the suspected chemical attack in Syria to allow time for negotiations with Russia.
Any resolution that satisfied Russia will be worthless.
And truth be told, a resolution should be unacceptable to Russia. Make the Russians veto a tough resolution that punishes Assad for killing children with poison gas.
And then introduce that resolution every week to remind the Arab world (and Iranians) of what support for Assad means.