As part of the U.S. buildup toward action, President Barack Obama plans to release an intelligence assessment of the Aug. 21 attack in Ghouta, and his administration has begun consultations with congressional leaders.
Cameron discussed the “serious response” with Obama last night, adding that it will be “specific to the chemical-weapons attack,” according to an e-mailed statement from his office. Cameron summoned Parliament back from its summer recess to debate the matter tomorrow.
The U.K. National Security Council met today and “agreed unanimously” on a recommendation that the cabinet will consider tomorrow, according to an e-mailed statement from Cameron’s office that didn’t give specifics of the plan.
“Ministers agreed that the Assad regime was responsible for this attack and that the world shouldn’t stand idly by, and that any response should be legal, proportionate and specifically to protect civilians by deterring further chemical weapons use,” according to the statement.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said the use of chemical weapons in Syria “is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered.” Information from “a wide variety of sources points to the Syrian regime as responsible,” NATO said in a statement after representatives of 28 allied governments met in Brussels.“Those responsible must be held accountable.”
French President Francois Hollande recalled Parliament to meet Sept. 4, the government said today.
The U.S. is concerned that allowing the Syrian government to go unpunished would send a signal to other countries including North Korea that have large inventories of chemical weapons, as well as making it likely that the Assad government will attack civilians with such weapons again, the U.S. official said.
Obama officials are still in consultations with NATO allies including the U.K., France, Germany, and Turkey as well as Arab nations to determine which countries would participate in a military strike on Syria, the official said.
Among options being explored are how to deter and degrade Syria’s chemical-weapons capability and defeat the Assad government’s defense capability, another U.S. official said.
“The Americans, the British and others say that they know that chemical weapons have been used; what we have been told is that this evidence is going to be shared with us,” Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, told a news conference in Geneva today. “It hasn’t been until now, and we will be very interested to hear what this evidence is.”
Brahimi said that “international law is clear: It says military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council.”
It’s “premature” to talk about a UN resolution authorizing measures against Syria while the investigation is continuing, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov as saying.