The Obama administration is wasting no time in pushing its message that Assad not only killed more than 1,400 people (including more than 400 children) in a recent chemical attack, but that he did so in violation of international law and must therefore be punished.
Appearing on five TV news shows Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry reported specific evidence that sarin gas had been used in the Aug. 21 attack in Syria. Until now, the type of gas had not been so positively identified.
"In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States and that have now been tested from first responders in East Damascus, and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin," Sec. Kerry said on NBC's Meet the Press.
"We are saying that the high confidence that the intelligence community has expressed and the case that I laid out the other day is growing stronger by the day," Kerry said. "We know where this attack came from. We know exactly where it went. We know what happened exactly afterwards."
Such information in greater detail is expected to be part of classified briefings scheduled Sunday for lawmakers who remained in Washington over the break or decided to return early. Unclassified telephone conferences on Syria for Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats – separately – were held Saturday.
“The Congress is going to do what's right here," Kerry said, stating challenge as much as prediction.
"I do not believe the Congress of the United States will turn its back on this moment. I think the interests that we have with respect to potential future confrontation, hopefully not, but the challenge of Iran, the challenges of the region, the challenge of standing up for and standing beside our ally Israel, helping to shore up Jordan, all of these things are very, very powerful interest," he said.